The Somali National Army (SNA) on Wednesday killed 16 Al-Shabaab extremists and injured 20 others in a fierce fight that also involved local pastoralists in Ba'adweyn town in the central region of Mudug, about 500 kilometres north of Mogadishu.
The confrontation, which erupted in the early hours of Wednesday, started when militants loyal to the jihadist group invaded areas occupied by the herders.
Youths in the area took up arms in defence of the land and their animals.
SNA forces from the 21st Division reached the area to help the pastoralists, eventually repelling the assailants.
"There were intense clashes, which lasted for several hours, but our forces finally overpowered the militants, killing 16 of them and injuring 20 others," Isma'il Abdi Malik Malin, an SNA commander told journalists.
Demanded money, animals
Local residents said Shabaab fighters wanted to set up new bases in Shabellow village but they resisted the move.
Tension began when herders resisted Al-Shabaab demands to pay money and give animals in the form of zakawaat (Muslims’ contributions to Islamic coffers).
The pastoralists have also been resisting Al-Shabaab demands that their youngsters be recruited as child soldiers for the Al-Qaeda-linked group.
According to Kulmiye, an independent broadcaster in Mogadishu, the attackers came from the coastal town of Haradhere, a former haven for pirates and now a jihadist stronghold, about 440 kilometres northeast of Mogadishu.
Mohamed Ahmed Alim, a camel herder at Shabellow area, told the broadcaster that the attackers killed some locals.
“They killed 10 persons including a Quran teacher,” said Mr Alim, adding that three sustained injuries.