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MOGADISHU, -- Somalia's Puntland state forces killed seven militants loyal to the Islamic State (Daesh) militant group and injured several others in fierce fighting on Saturday, a local official said Sunday.

The forces launched an offensive aimed at flushing out pro-IS militants in an area near the coastal town of Qandala in Bari region.

"We have killed seven ISIS (IS) militants at Bashashin area and after fighting, three of our soldiers sustained light injuries in a landmine blast in the area. Our forces pushed the ISIS militants back," Yusuf Mohamed, governor of Bari region, told journalists Sunday.

Mohamed said some of the militants were captured during the offensive. Other militants retreated to a hill outside the village after the fighting, he said, adding: "We shall keep on pursuing the fighters until we get rid off them from Qandala."

The pro-IS militants, which split from the Al-Shabaab Islamist group in 2015, took over Qandala from the Puntland administration in October.

Residents reported sporadic gunfire ongoing near Bashashin and Karin villages.

"Puntland forces -- both security and maritime police forces -- are in the operation to eliminate terrorists and restore Qandala location back to our control in 24 hours," said Mohamed.

There was no immediate comment from the pro-IS fighters led by Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, a former leader of the Al-Shabaab, which has been battling the Somali government for years.

Source: Nam News Network