Abdi Hamid Mohamed Dirir, commander of the Somali infantry division told reporters that SNA conducted a sting operation in villages between Jannale and Qoryoley towns and inflicted casualties on the militants.
"We got intelligence of the militants' presence in the area and our forces advanced towards the area. There was a confrontation between the army and the militants, we overpowered them killing six of them," Dirir said.
He added that one of those killed in the operation was Abdi Muhsin Hussein, a senior al-Shabab fighter.
"Our forces are now controlling the area and the militants have fled towards the forest," he said.
Locals said the government army attacked al-Shabab members in Bulla Sheikh village, prompting exchange gunfire between the two sides.
"There was exchange of fire between the army and the militants, but the forces are now in the town and the militants were chased out," Hindi Aden, a resident said.
The latest operation comes barely three days after Somali forces killed three al-Shabab militants including a foreign operator from Mali in another operation in the outskirt of Bu'ale town in the country's southern region of Middle Juba.
Somali forces have intensified operations against al-Shabab extremists in southern regions, but the militants still hold swathes of rural areas in those regions conducting ambushes and planting land mines. Enditem