At least four people were killed on Thursday when Al Shabaab extremists raided a town near Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, according to police.
The attack occurred as the troubled country was engulfed in an escalating political crisis that pitted the president against the prime minister.
According to police and witnesses, the attackers raided the town of Balcad, about 30 kilometers north of Mogadishu, armed with machine guns.
Witnesses said the Al Shabaab fighters managed to enter some parts of the town, which is on a road linking Mogadishu to the rest of the country, before they were repelled.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble are embroiled in a bitter feud over the country’s long-delayed elections.
The president, better known as Farmaajo, this week announced that he was suspending the premier, who in turn accused him of an “attempted coup”.
Relations between the two countries have long been strained, with the latest developments raising new concerns among international partners that the government may be diverted from its fight against the extremist insurgency.
Al Shabaab has been waging a violent campaign against the country’s fragile government since 2007, but was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 by an African Union offensive.
Last month, extremists claimed responsibility for a deadly car bombing in the capital, which killed eight people and injured a number of students.
In September, the militants claimed responsibility for two attacks that killed 17 people.