Official: Islamic extremists in southern Somalia ambush, kill 15 government soldiers

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NAIROBI, Kenya — At least 15 government soldiers were killed in an ambush by fighters from the Somali Islamic extremist rebel group al-Shabab, one day after the same group of extremists killed a dozen people in an attack in the capital, a military official said Monday.

The ambush happened late Monday near Walaweyn, a town in the Lower Shabelle region, about 93 kilometers (57.79 miles)south of Mogadishu, said Col. Ahmed Muse of the Somali military.

The rebels seized three military vehicles during the attack, he told The Associated Press by phone from Walaeyn.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group's online radio known as Andalus, saying 30 soldiers had been killed. It wasn't possible to independently verify the group's claims.

On Sunday, Islamic extremists attacked a hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least 12 people and injuring many others before all the assailants were killed by security forces.

The Sahafi Hotel is often frequented by Somali government officials and business executives, and had been targeted before. Two French security advisers were abducted from the hotel by militants in 2009.

Despite being forced out of Mogadishu and many other cities and towns across Somalia, al-Shabab continues to launch lethal attacks in the capital and elsewhere. Al-Shabab is fighting to oust the Mogadishu government and install a strict version of Shariah law.

Al-Shabab has also attacked neighboring countries that have sent troops to support the Mogadishu government. The extremist rebels killed 148 people in an attack on a college in Garissa, Kenya, in April.

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