Somali forces kill 40 al-Shabab terrorists in central region

MOGADISHU, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Somali National Army (SNA) forces backed by the local pro-government militia group Ma'awisley on Thursday killed 40 al-Shabab militants in an attack in the Hiran region of central Somalia.

SNA commanders told the Somali News Agency that the 40 terrorists were killed during fierce fighting in Ceel-Qooxle village. "We are now searching for the remaining extremists who are on the run," the agency quoted SNA commanders as saying.

Elmi Hagar Gure, a prominent elder and frontliner in the fight against al-Shabab, died during the fierce fighting. Hagar was a strong pillar in the offensive operation against the al-Qaida allied group and his efforts helped in liberating several areas under al-Shabab control in the Hiran region.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has since sent his condolence message to the family of the slain peacemaker who was at the forefront of the fight against insurgency.

"The peacemaker is a good example of the successful uprising of the Somali people to liberate themselves from the anti-peace group," Abdi said.

The Ceel-Qooxle village is among several villages liberated in the recently intensified security operations in southern and central Somalia by both government forces and the locals.

The government forces have recently stepped up an offensive against the al-Shabab terror group, flushing it out of several of its former strongholds, which it had held for over a decade.

The extremist group still controls some parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out high-profile attacks in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, and elsewhere.

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