A Somali military official says fighters from Islamic extremist rebels recaptured a town in southern Somalia, killing at least 11 Somali government soldiers.

Col. Abdinur Yusuf said dozens of armed al-Shabab fighters stormed Runirgod, in the Middle Shabelle region, setting off a suicide car bomb before launching a major attack from three directions on Sunday morning.

He said government troops who had seized the town a day earlier were forced to retreat.

Al-Shabab claimed it killed 32 soldiers during the attack; however the group often exaggerates figures of people it kills.

Residents said the militants raised their black banner over the town.

Despite being ousted from major strongholds across Somalia, al-Shabab, allied to al-Qaida, has recently been attacking military positions of Somali and African Union troops bolstering Somalia's government.