At least 16 people were killed and several wounded in three separate bomb blasts Wednesday in Somalia, police and military officials confirmed.
Twelve soldiers and two civilians were killed and several others injured when a bomb targeted a vehicle carrying military personnel near Bal'ad, Middle Shabelle.
Ibrahim Ali, a military official in the region told Anadolu Agency that after the bomb, heavy fighting erupted between government soldiers backed by Burundian forces serving under African Union peacekeeping mission forces (AMISOM ) and al-Shabaab fighters.
He said reinforcements from Jowhar, the capital of Middle Shabelle, were also ambushed by al-Shabaab.
"The death toll has risen to 14, including 12 soldiers and two civilians, and wounded were transported to Jowhar hospital for treatment," said Ali.
An AMISOM official near Bal'ad told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity that one AMISOM soldier was wounded in the attack.
Bal'ad is an agricultural town 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Mogadishu. The Al-Shabaab militant group, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. The armed group has been fighting the state to impose Islamic law for more than a decade.
Earlier Wednesday, a civilian was killed and two others were wounded when a roadside bomb targeted a vehicle carrying construction workers in the capital.
And one soldier was killed and at least five people were wounded in an explosion in a restaurant in Diinsoor, in southwestern Bay region.
Col. Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh, a former special forces commander, said the government has put in efforts to asserting greater central control but failed in combating domestic insurgency.
"Election season always follows increased insecurity ... the relaxed security posture and al-Shabaab willingness to make headlines further contributes to the situation," he told Anadolu Agency.
The government's mandate ends Feb. 8, but there are disagreements regarding when to conduct parliamentary and presidential elections.