Mogadishu (dpa) - The Islamist group al-Shabaab attacked two bases of the Somali army and African Union peacekeepers on Saturday, sparking fighting in which more than 50 militants were killed, officials said.
Al-Shabaab, on its side, claimed to have killed 25 soldiers.
Al-Shabaab tried to storm military bases in the villages of Moora-Gaabey and Garasweyne near the south-western town of Hudur, regional official Adan Abdi said.
A military commander who did not want his name quoted said suicide attacks were involved in the fighting.
Residents reported explosions followed by gunfire that lasted for three hours.
"We have the bodies of more than 50 militants which were left in the battlefield," Abdi said.
Al-Shabaab spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Mus'ab told pro-insurgent radio Andalus that the group had killed 25 soldiers, including 15 Ethiopian peacekeepers, and looted military equipment.
"It was the worst fighting in our area since the allied forces drove al-Shabaab out of Hudur two years ago," shopkeeper Omar Hassan said.