By Abdi Hajji Hussein


Mogadishu, Somalia

Somali forces backed by African Union (AMISOM) peacekeepers on Thursday launched a pre-dawn attack on one of Al Shabaab's last strongholds, killing more than 14 people and injuring scores more, officials and witnesses said.

Residents told All Headline News that government soldiers and AU troops entered Mogadishu's Daynile district and fighting with insurgent soldiers broke out. Hundreds of families fled their homes during the intense battle, according to local resident Fatima Mohamed.

Mohamed said indiscriminate artillery barrages and crossfire hitting their homes forced them out of their homes.

Somalia's deputy army chief, Abdikarim Yusuf Adam, told reporters the primary goal of the attack was to flush remnants of Al Shabaab from Mogadishu.

"Our forces and friends of AMISOM are committed to continuing their combat operations against the anti-peace elements," Adam said.

A spokesman for Al Shabaab, Sheikh Abdi-aziz Abu Mus'ab, told the media that insurgents were attacked by what he dubbed African Christians and soldiers of the "apostate" government.

"All praise due to Allah. We have managed to give them stiff counterattack by killing at least 50 Burundian soldiers," Abu Mus'ab claimed.

Witnesses said the bodies of at least six Burundi soldiers were seen being dragged through Elasha Biayaha refugee camps just outside Mogadishu.

Officials of AMISOM forces denied the claim but declined to give further details about Thursday's battles.

World - Heavy Casualties as Somali Forces Attack Rebel Stronghold | Global Viewpoint