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Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab attack towns in south Somalia, 18 killed

Clashes between the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant group and government troops in southern Somalia have left at least 18 people from both sides dead.

Mohamed Abdullahi, a Somali military commander in Lower Shabelle region, said on Saturday that the fighting erupted in Awdhegle and Mubarak towns after the militants attacked military forces.

He added that the militants were later pushed back, without giving specific details.

In a separate development on Saturday, al-Shabab militants opened fire on a car carrying two Somali legislators in the capital, Mogadishu.

According to Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari, lawmaker Yusuf Mohamed Dirir died of his injuries. Another legislator on board the car was not harmed.

At least 10 soldiers and 15 militants were killed when al-Shabab extremists stormed military buildings in the two towns earlier in May.

Somalia has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab elements since 2006.

The militants have been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government troops and the African Union Mission to Somalia, which is largely made up of troops from Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, and Kenya.

The al-Shabab members have, however, continued to carry out attacks in Mogadishu despite being ousted from their bases in the seaside city in 2011.

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