By Mohamed Shiil

El-Wak, Somalia

Militant group Al-Shabaab on Sunday took over the border town of El-Wak in the Gedo region from government forces who had controlled the town since early this year.

"Heavy fighting occurred between the two sides and heavy shelling was exchanged," said Salad Ahmed, an eyewitness in El-Wak.

At least 20 people from warring sides were reportedly dead and at least 17 government soldiers were admitted at the hospital in El-Wak after being wounded in the fighting, according to witnesses.

The fighting broke out after the insurgents launched an attack from different directions on government bases in the town before government forces fled to the Kenyan border town of Mandera.

Ole Serien, Kenyan North Eastern Province commissioner, said that more security personnel had been moved to the border to contain the influx of people fleeing from El-Wak, which is less than 10 kilometers from the Kenya-Somalia border.

"We are in control of El-Wak and our fighters are inside the town " said Mohamed Hussein, an Al-Shabaab officer in Mogadishu.

Transitional Federal Government officials did not comment on the latest clashes in Gedo region.

Early this year Al-Shabaab insurgents were driven out of several key towns in the Gedo region including the commercial town of Beled-Hawo, Garbahaarey, El-Wak and others by allied government forces and Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a, a pro-government militia.

It the first major take over by Al-Shabaab since its withdrawal from the capital early last month.


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World - Insurgents Take Over Key Somali Border Town | Global Viewpoint