Ethiopian forces and Somali government troops have seized one of the main bases of the radical Al Shabaab insurgent group in central Somalia.
Residents say the Al Qaeda-linked rebels had fled the town of El Bur before pro-government forces arrived Monday, accompanied by members of the moderate Islamist Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa militia, which is fighting alongside Somalia’s UN-backed government, according to the BBC.
El Bur residents reported seeing Ethiopian armored personnel carriers enter the town, the capture of which opens the way to nearby areas held by the rebels.
Al Shabaab still controls much of southern and central Somalia, but is under increasing pressure from Kenyan forces in the south and Ethiopian forces in the West.
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The militants pulled out the capital city of Mogadishu last August in what they described as a “tactical” withdrawal.
At the start of this month Somali government troops, backed by African Union (AU) forces, seized a major Al Shabaab insurgent base during a dawn raid on the village of Maslah, the rebels’ last remaining base on the outskirts of the city.
But the group has still managed to launch sporadic attacks in the capital. At least two people were killed and seven others were wounded after Al Shabaab fighters fired mortars overnight at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, according to the Associated Press.
Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman for the AU mission (AMISOM) propping up Somalia’s weak central government, said some of the mortars landed in a camp for Somalis displaced by conflict and famine some 300 meters from the heavily protected presidential compound, reportedly killing a man and his son, according to Reuters.
Monday’s mortar barrage is the third such attack in the capital over the past week.
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