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

  • An ant and a humanAnts v humans

    Do all the world's ants really weigh as much as all the humans?


  • Tattooed person using tabletRogue ink

    People who lost their jobs because of their tattoos


  • Indian coupleSuspicious spouses

    Is your sweetheart playing away? Call Delhi's wedding detective


  • Civilians who had been hiding inside during gun battles manage to flee  from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, 21 September 2013Westgate's questions

    One year on, Kenyans await answers about the mall attack


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • GeoguessrWhere in the world...?

    Think you are a geography expert? Test your knowledge with BBC Travel’s interactive game

Programmes

  • StudentsClick Watch

    Could a new social network help tailor lessons to students’ needs and spot when they fall behind?

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.