al-Shabaab militants
A file photo of al-Shabaab militants in Somalia - (Reuters) Reuters

Foreign military troops are believed to have stormed a town in southern Somalia, targeting al-Shabaab militants, according to multiple reports.

The southern town of Barawe, located about 180kms from capital Mogadishu, witnessed heavy gunfire following the attack, which killed at least two insurgents.

The attack against the al-Qaida-affiliated group was said to be led by "westerners", although the specifics of the incident are still unclear.

"Westerners in boats attacked our base at Barawe beach and one was martyred from our side," al-Shabaab spokesperson Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters by telephone.

Militants are reported to have attempted to capture one of the "foreign" troops but were unsuccessful in the bid.

Conflicting reports suggest helicopters were involved in the operation. An unknown local militant leader was said to be the target.

The Somali government has also given a similar version of the event, saying an attack had taken place but refrained from divulging details.

Neither the Kenyan forces nor the foreign military units, which usually carry out such operations in the region, have commented on the attack.

In Somalia, the US and other western forces have recently carried out several operations against al-Qaida and its proxies.

Al-Shabaab had claimed responsibility for the four-day siege in the luxury Westgate mall in Nairobi in September in which dozens were killed.