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Somalia army says at least 100 al Shabaab fighters killed in clashes

Somalia's army and allied clan militias have killed at least 100 al Shabaab fighters in heavy clashes in the central Hiran region, the defence ministry said on Friday, days after twin bombings killed at least 120 people in the capital.

Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda franchise, claimed responsibility for two car bombs that blew up outside the education ministry in Mogadishu on Oct. 29, the deadliest incident since a truck bomb killed more than 500 people at the same location five years previously.

The Islamist group have killed tens of thousands of people in bombings since 2006 in their fight to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed central government and implement its interpretation of Islamic law.

Al Shabaab has been under pressure since August, when President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud began a concerted offensive against them, supported by the United States and clan militias known locally known as macawisley, or "men with sarongs".

Photographs showing the bodies of scores of alleged al Shabaab fighters were shared on a Telegram channel linked to the national army on Friday.

The fighting took place in the villages of Garas Magan and El Hareeri on Thursday, defence ministry spokesman Abdullahi Ali Anod said.

El Hareeri is about 15 km (9 miles) from the strategic town Adan-yabal of Middle Shabelle province, which security forces captured earlier this week, according to a report by Somalia's state news agency.

Al Shabaab said they killed dozens of army soldiers and macawisley fighters in fierce clashes on Thursday, and that eight of their own fighters were killed in an air strike they blamed on the United States.

Asked about the alleged air strike, the U.S. military said it would respond shortly. The United States has conducted air strikes against al Shabaab on eight occasions this year, according to its website.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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