Monday Sep 17, 201206:12 PM GMT
Al-Shabab vacate stronghold in South Somalia
African Union soldiers take up a defensive position at Lanta Buro, an alleged former Al-Shabab training camp in Lower Shabelle region, 40km west of Mogadishu. (file photo)
African Union soldiers take up a defensive position at Lanta Buro, an alleged former Al-Shabab training camp in Lower Shabelle region, 40km west of Mogadishu. (file photo)
Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:0PM
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Our soldiers and Kenyan forces, who were deployed near Kismayo town are preparing to take positions left by our enemy within today"

Spokesman of Somali military in Jubba region, Mohamed Farah

Al-Shabab militants have vacated a strategic town in south Somali region of lower Jubba after Kenyan troops and Somali government forces advanced into the district to seize the territory, Press TV reports.


On Sunday, the Kenyan forces, currently under the command of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali government troops attacked al-Shabab bases in port city of Kismayo.

“Last night (Sunday), al-Shabab left the town with all their military vehicles and they are heading toward neighboring towns ahead of AMISOM forces attack,” said a resident, Mohamed Kazem on Monday.

He added that pro-government troops reached the outskirts of the town early Monday, taking positions left by al-Shabab counterparts.

Somali government forces also said they are planning to take all positions abondoned by al-Shabab militants.

“Our soldiers and Kenyan forces, who were deployed near Kismayo town are preparing to take positions left by our enemy within today,” said the spokesman of Somali military in Jubba region, Mohamed Farah.

Kismayo is a strategically important port city on Somalia's Indian Ocean coast located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of capital, Mogadishu.

Tensions are still high in the area as residents vacate the area for safety.

Earlier on Friday, al-Shabab militants abandoned key positions in Bibi town, marking the end of their control over south Somalia.

Kenya dispatched soldiers over its border into the conflict-plagued Somalia last October to pursue al-Shabab militants, which it accuses of being behind the kidnapping of several foreigners on its territory.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The weak Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab fighters for the past five years, and is propped up by a strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti.

Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) officially joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on July 6 in a bid to secure peace and stability in the neighboring war- ravaged country.

Integrating 4664 Kenyan personnel into AMISOM, the move brought the AMISOM force strength to slightly over 17,000 troops.

Somalia is one of the countries generating the highest number of refugees and internally-displaced people in the world.

AMB/MAM/JR
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