At least eight Shabab militants were killed and five others injured on Thursday night in an intense clash in the central region of Mudug in Somalia, an official confirmed.

Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, security minister for Galmudug state, said Shabab fighters attacked bases run by government forces on the outskirts of Dhusamareb town, but they were repelled.

“At midnight, the militants launched a mortar attack on our bases in the area, sparking an intense clash between the army and the attackers,” Fiqi said. “We killed eight militants and injured five others.”

The attack came as talks between regional leaders and the Somali government continued in Dhusamareb town.

Al-Qaida-allied al-Shabab was driven out of the capital Mogadishu in August 2011, but it is still in control of rural areas in central and southern regions, conducting ambushes and planting landmines.