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Residents in Somali town resist al-Shabab taxes, 10 dead

Posted 11:59 a.m. Monday
Updated 12:01 p.m. Monday

— Clashes between the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab and villagers in a central Somali town have left 10 people dead and dozens wounded, say local residents.

The fighting erupted Monday after al-Shabab fighters who control the port town of Harardhere ordered nomadic villagers to pay a tax, said resident Ahmed Mohamed.

Harardhere's inhabitants, who have lost hundreds of animals in the current drought, dismissed the demand, leading to fighting between the two sides, he said.

Six militants and four residents have been killed in the ongoing fighting, he said.

Villagers ambushed al-Shabab fighters traveling near Harardhere on Monday afternoon, and destroyed one battlewagon, another resident, an elder in the area, told The Associated Press by phone. Militants burned down homes in Dumaya, a village outside the town, he said. He insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisal by al-Shabab.

Civilians have rarely resisted al-Shabab, which carries out executions to impose its authority.

It was not possible to get a comment from al-Shabab, which seeks to establish a strict Islamic emirate in Somalia and is waging an insurgency against the weak U.N.-backed government.

More than 22,000 peacekeepers are deployed in Somalia in the multi-national African Union force. Al-Shabab opposes the presence of foreign troops.

Despite being ousted from most of its key strongholds in south and central Somalia, al-Shabab continues to launch deadly guerrilla attacks against the Somali government and African Union forces across large parts of the horn of Africa nation.

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