Somali security forces recaptured the town of Amaara in the central Galmudug region after al-Shabab militants briefly took over early Tuesday following a dawn attack.
The attack on Amaara and a subsequent roadside explosion in the same vicinity killed at least six people, including four Somali soldiers.
Witnesses and officials told VOA that al-Shabab militants began their attack with a suicide vehicle-borne explosion detonated near an army base.
Galmudug Information Minister Ahmed Shire Falagle confirmed the attack to VOA but disputed allegations that the town fell to al-Shabab. Falagle said the militants loaded a truck with sheep and goats to disguise the explosive-laden vehicle.
He said the truck exploded near a military camp, killing two civilians and three soldiers. A fourth soldier died, and six others were injured after their vehicle struck a landmine in the same vicinity, officials said.
Falagle told VOA that an airstrike targeted the militants near Amaara, but he did not give details.
The U.S. military in Africa, known as AFRICOM, later confirmed conducting a “collective self-defense” strike against al-Shabab fighters. AFRICOM said the militants engaged in active combat with Somali forces.
Initial assessment of the airstrike is that no civilians were injured or killed, AFRICOM said.
Amaara is one of three towns recently captured by Somali forces, with the U.S. providing occasional air support after al-Shabab reportedly posed threats to Somali forces, including the Danab unit trained by the U.S. military.