Somali government forces backed by African union forces have taken control of the key town ofJowharin middle Shabelle region, according to officials and eyewitnesses.
The joint forces of Amsiom and Somali army seized the town without a fight after fighters from the militant group of Al shabab deserted the town.
"Jowhar is liberated and its residents are not under oppression any longer" said a government security official.
Most of the residents in the town remain indoors, observing the transition of control with caution. Jowhar is located 90 kilometres south ofMogadishuand it was under the control of Al shabab since 2009.
Eyewitnesses say that fighters fled the town after government forces and African union forces came close to the town last night.
The fall of Jowhar is a big blow to Al shabab but a boost for the Somali government which now controls large parts of south Somalia after, with a help from African Union forces, pushed Al shabab from major cities and towns including Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa.