Some 50 people, many of them fighters, were killed Wednesday in clashes across Somalia, witnesses and officials said.
The deaths came as Somali government forces backed by African Union troops launched a fresh offensive against Al Qaeda-inspired rebels.
“We have counted at least 20 civilians killed,” Ali Muse, head of the Mogadishu ambulance service said.
Residents spoke of one dead insurgent in the capital and said Shebab fighters had also displayed five bodies they said were dead soldiers from the African Union force, bringing the toll for the capital to 26.
In the towns of Beledweyn and Bulohawo in central Somalia’s Galgadud region, Shebab fighters clashed with pro-government Sufi militants assisting Somali government soldiers.
Elders in Beledweyn said at least 11 combatants were killed. Thirteen other people, most of them combatants, were also killed in the town of Bulohawo.