Somali forces launched an operation on Tuesday against Al Shabab rebels after the latter allegedly killed two traditional elders near Mogadishu.

The operation was conducted at Hawo-Abdi area near the capital, leaving 4 militants dead, according to senior government official Ali Nor Mohamed.

Mohamed told The Messenger Africa that Somali military forces killed four armed fighters after launching an attack on Al Shabaab targets.

“We killed four militants earlier on Tuesday. The operation was carried out when the militants killed two renowned elders and a soldier at Hawo Abdi area near Mogadishu,” he said.

He says AK-47 assault rifles, dozens of rounds of ammunition, grenades and other explosives had been confiscated after the operation by the Somali military forces. “Our brave military soldiers will never tolerate callous and senseless killings against civilians which are often carried out by armed fighters belonging to Al Shabaab,” Mohamed said.

There was no response from Somali-based group Al Shabaab over the military’s claims.

Al Shabab fighters fled fixed positions in Mogadishu in 2011 and have since lost most large towns to a 22,000-strong UN-backed African Union force, fighting alongside government soldiers. But the group’s fighters still hold sway in areas of the rural hinterland, from which they regularly launch attacks.

Reporting by Abdirizak Mohamud Tuuryare from Mogadishu, Somalia