14 February 2013

Somalia: Somali, African Union Forces Capture Three Towns From Al-Shabaab

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

The Somali National Army and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces captured three strategic positions from al-Shabaab Thursday morning (February 14th), AMISOM announced.

The simultaneous operation in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region pushed al-Shabaab out of Janaale, Awdhigle and Barire, which the militants had used as crossing points to create insecurity along the Afgoye-Marka road, as well as to connect to the Barawe port and parts of central Somalia still under al-Shabaab control, Uganda's The Independent reported.

"This operation puts us on a better footing to defeat the enemy at Burhakaba because we have now cut off their main communication and reinforcement routes through Toritori," said AMISOM's Ugandan contingent commander Brigadier Michael Ondoga. "We have also blocked the key crossing points that the terrorists were using to sneak into our rear positions and into the city."

Al-Shabaab had fled to these areas after losing major towns such as Marka, Afgoye and Kismayo. In addition to providing strategic communication links, these agricultural positions along the river provided al-Shabaab with ample water, food and a source of revenue collected from farmers.

They also used the positions as a ground for forceful recruitment, something that the population has long detested, Ondoga said.

"The population has had enough troubles with this group and there was no more time left to address the population's concerns so as to allow them enjoy their rights and freedoms," he said. "This operation also fulfilled a part of our wider intent to expand our area of control and to defeat al-Shabaab from Somalia."

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