US Special Forces have killed 10 al-Shabaab insurgents including a "high-profile target" in a violent gunfight with the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. The night raid was jointly carried out by US special operations forces and Somali soldiers on 8 March as conflict between the insurgents and the US is at its most intense since the early 1990's.

Al-Shabaab claimed its fighters foiled the deadly overnight attack on the Awdhegle town in southern Somalia where the Islamic extremists still enjoy some support. The allied American and Somali commandos, part of a special unit known as Danab, which means lightning in Somali, were reported to have suffered some casualties.

Awdhegle is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, where the extremists have increased attacks in recent weeks hoping to overthrow the Western-backed government. Residents of the town described an intense gunfight leaving pockmarked walls throughout the area. Al-Shabaab was said to have tried to flush out spies in the hours afterwards.

Al-Shabaab, which means "The Youth", launched its own insurgency on major Somali cities in 2009, controlling the capital and swathes of southern Somalia, until it was pushed out by domestic and international forces around 2012.

A Somali intelligence official told the Associated Press that the casualties included a "high-profile target". "It was a high-profile target, and chances of capture were challenged by a stiff resistance by militants guarding the house targeted by the Special Forces, which forced the commando to resort to the kill or capture method," the official said.

Up to 50 US special operations troops have been operating in the East African nation for the last few years. And only three days ago the US carried out a huge airstrike on an extremist training camp which the Pentagon said killed about 150 jihadists.

Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, a military spokesman for al-Shabaab, told a militant-run online radio station that the foreign forces used two helicopters in the operation on Awdhegle and just one militant was killed. He claimed fighters "thwarted ... a landing operation by foreign forces."

"Heavy clashes lasted for nearly a half-hour," Abu Musab said on the pro-Al-Shabaab radio station, according to the tweet. "The mujahideen forced the foreign forces to retreat after making them suffer losses."

In recent months the jihadists have increased attacks on African Union troops involved in the ANISOM mission to the country, claiming responsibility for an explosion on a passenger jet and carrying out deadly attacks on hotels and restaurants.