At least 15 people have been killed and more others injured early Wednesday after Africa Union and Somalia National Army (SNA) troops launched an offensive in Jungal town, about 40 km west of Bardere in Gedo region.
Somali military officer Colonel Abdullah Osman Isaaq said AMISOM and Somali forces also inflicted heavy defeat on the Al-Shabaab in the battle for the town of Jungal in an operation which saw them seize vehicles, weapons and ammunitions from the militants.
"The next task of AMISOM and Somali National Army is to move towards the town of Bandera where Al-Shabaab militants had been holding in the last five years," Isaaq said.
He said the allied forces are being overwhelmed in their strongholds forcing them to flee or withdraw from these regions and vowed to capture more towns soon. He could not however, establish the number of militants killed during the attack.
Jungal is where AMISOM forces last week killed 51 Al-Shabaab militants and recovered 11 technical vehicles following a major artillery bombardment against the insurgents.
According to Kenyan and Somali officials, among those killed in the July 16 raid were Al-Shabaab leaders -- Jamaa Dhere, Ismail Jabhadi and one intelligence chief of Al-Shabaab.
Jungal was one of the main Al-Shabaab planning and operations bases in Gedo region which has seen an increase in militia activities recently. Officials said increased air strikes at Jungal will be a major setback to the militants.
The AU forces including the Somali army have intensified their presence in southern Somalia near the Kenyan border ahead of President Obama's visit in the region on Friday.
This came as hundreds of Bardare residents have begun fleeing from the town in anticipated offensive on the insurgents.
Namco Dahir told Xinhua that the residents of Bardere town started to flee from their houses for fear of being caught in middle warring sides.
"The residents of Bardere town are faced an imminent threat of war and they are confused where to go. Some are going to the direction which Somali National Army and African Union troops are coming from and others are moving the opposite direction," Dahir said.
Bardare is a strategic town which Al-Shabaab has been controlling since 2009 as they launch attacks on the Somali government.