At least 10 people have been killed in fighting between forces in the Somali semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Galmudug, medical sources and witnesses said Sunday.
Saturday’s fighting in the town of Galkayo, which is divided between the two regions, followed weeks of tension in the area.
The fighting erupted after Galmudug accused Puntland of creating a livestock market in its part of the city, local media reported.
African Union forces meanwhile withdrew from a key town in central Somalia, allowing al-Shabaab Islamists to take it over, a military source and witnesses said.
The Ethiopian AU troops “gave no explanation for the withdrawal” from Halgan, the source said. “It worries us as Somali military commanders to see African Union troops leaving towns and key villages to al-Shabaab.”
AU officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
The AU has more than 20,000 troops in Somalia to help the government battle al-Shabaab, whose decade-long campaign for a radical Islamist state has claimed thousands of lives.
The unrest in parts of the country come as elections were due to begin for the lower house of parliament.
The poll was scheduled to begin on Sunday, but there were no signs of voting having started. The electoral commission could not be reached for comment.
Observers said the organizers had probably not yet finished registering the 14,025 members of electoral colleges who were due to choose the 275 members of the House of the People.