Somalia: 'Al-Shabab' ambush ministers and defend Jowhar

map

After weeks of relative calm in Somalia, a convoy carrying three ministers has been attacked, while fierce fighting has erupted near the militant base of Jowhar, officials say.

The ministers of defence, interior and justice were unharmed after a landmine exploded under a vehicle near the port of Merca, they say.

A governor told the BBC there had been a two-hour gunbattle near Jowhar.

This is the biggest town under the control of al-Shabab Islamists.

The al-Qaeda linked group has been driven out of most urban areas over the past two years still controls many rural areas of the country.

Middle Shabelle governor Abdi Jiinow told the BBC Somali service that al-Shabab had now gathered its forces around Jowhar, 90km (55 miles) north of the capital, Mogadishu, in order to defend the town.

He said three soldiers and 15 al-Shabab fighters had been killed in the fighting, which he said was the fiercest in the area for several months since pro-government advanced on the town.

The militant group has not yet commented on the fighting there.

But its Twitter feed said it had carried out the ambush on the ministerial convoy near Merca, south of Mogadishu.

It said several people had been killed - a claim backed by some independent sources in the area.

The area's deputy governor told the BBC that four police officers escorting the ministers had been badly wounded.

Alongside the recent military gains, a new president took office in September, raising some hopes of a return to law and order after two decades of anarchy.

More on This Story

Somalia: Failed State

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Dr Mahinder Watsa Dr Sex

    The wisecracking 90-year-old whose advice column is a cult hit


  • Payton McKinnonKilling heat

    Why so many American children die in hot cars


  • Vice-President Joe Biden.Joe v Hillary

    What needs to happen for Biden to be the next president


  • USA fanSoccer punch

    Has the US finally fallen in love with the beautiful game? BBC Sport


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SleepSleep on it

    Is it possible to strengthen your brain's synapses while you slumber?

Programmes

  • (File photo) Usain BoltClick Watch

    Challenging the world's fastest man to a virtual race over 40m – can you keep up?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.