“At least 17 soldiers were killed in clashes overnight between forces from two semi-autonomous regions of northern Somalia”, local officials said on Wednesday.
Soldiers in Puntland and Galmudug have clashed repeatedly over territory and political rivalries in recent years.
As well as fighting in a civil war that began in 1991, national forces, loyal to the Western-backed Mogadishu-based government, and regional militias are battling an Islamist insurgency.
The militias sometimes also attack each other.
Puntland said it had killed Islamist militants in an air raid but Galmudug said its soldiers were targeted.
“This story of killing militants is propaganda. Seventeen of our soldiers were killed and two of our military vehicles were destroyed by the air strike,” Abdi Hussein, the deputy governor of Galkayo, the capital of the Galmudug region, told reporters on a phone interview.
Galkayo hospital confirmed it had received 17 dead and 15 wounded soldiers.
A Puntland police colonel insisted the raid killed militants.
“Puntland security forces launched a planned attack last night. We killed over a dozen militants and destroyed their vehicles,” Colonel Abdullahi Nur, a Somali politician who is also a military general said.