New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Al-Shabaab in Disarray

Photo: Stuart Price/UN
A soldier stands over the weapons seized from suspected members of Al Shabaab (file photo).

The United States envoy to Somalia James Swan has said that Al Shabab militants fighting the Government of Somalia have been cornered by forces of the Africa Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) with the support of the Somalia National Army (SNA).

"Al Shabaab is under increasing military and political pressure as they continue to lose ground. There are also signs of increasing pressure on foreign fighters who are in the structure of Al Shabaab and they are beginning to flee seeing the tide is turning against them," Swan said in a teleconference with selected journalists from Africa Monday.

Uganda pioneered deployment of UPDF soldiers to constitute an African Union authorized peace keeping forces to restore law and order in the Horn of Africa nation where fighting of militants has raged for the last two decades. Other countries; Burundi, Kenya, Djibouti and Sierra Leone have since also deployed soldiers to AMISOM.

The peacekeepers fighting along with the SNA have since driven Al shabaab militants, fighting the Somali government, out of Mogadishu and captured several towns from the extremists.

Swan yesterday observed that the numerous successes of AMISOM have shown the force's military prowess.

He pointed out that the on-going build up to the capture Kismayo by the Kenyan contingent of AMISON is crucial as the town in the remaining source of revenue for Al shabaab within Somalia. "They should keep the pressure on Al shabaab," he said adding the US will continue to train and army AMISOM fighters heading for Somalia.

Reports from Somalia on Monday indicated that Al Shabaab officials have pulled out of the city of Kismaayo in southern Somalia. It is unknown where the officials have gone to amid high tension in the port city.

Somalia's Radio Garowe quoting residents of Kismayo said that the al Shabaab officials left the city on Monday. "Tension is very high. All prisoners have been freed. Everyone is asking what will happen next after al Shabaab's withdrawal from the town," the radio station quoted residents as saying.

Although it is not known where al Shabaab officials and fighters have gone to, reports say they may have headed to the town of Jilib. Other reports say they may have gone to the forested areas in the south of Lower Jubba Region.

Kismayo was al Shabaab's main base in southern Somalia and this development is a set back for the militant group and its supporters. Al Shabaab has not issued any statement regarding its withdrawal from Kismaayo although it previously vowed to defend the city.

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