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Somali troops capture Al Shabaab-controlled town of Jowhar

Somali troops have made a key advance in their battle against Islamic extremists Al Shabaab.

Al shabaab suicide bomber mogadishu 2012 3 14Enlarge
Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab recruits walk down a street on Mar. 5, 2012 in the Deniile district of the Somalian capital, Mogadishu, following their graduation. (Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)

Somali troops have captured the key town of Jowhar from Al Shabaab with the help of African Union forces. 

The joint forces encountered little resistance as they entered the town, a central base for the Islamic militant group, according to CNN International

Abdi Isac, a local resident, said that the Somali and AU troops entered Jowhar, 60 miles north of Mogadishu, without Al Shabaab fighters "firing a single shot," according to CNN. 

"We took control this morning and are now establishing security in Jowhar," a spokesman for the AU mission in Somalia told Agence France Presse.

AMISOM commander Andrew Gutti told AFP that the capture of capture would "go a long way towards improving security" in the region. 

African Union and Somali troops forced the al Qaeda-linked group out of Mogadishu in August 2011, and many other towns since then, the Associated Press reported. However, Al Shabaab still maintains control in Somalia's rural areas, according to BBC News.

Somalia also saw a new president, Hassan Skeikh Mohamud, take office this past September, which may signal the country's return to order after over 20 years of anarchy and fighting, according to AP. 

More from GlobalPost: Al Shabaab attacks convoy carrying Somali ministers and security officials

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/somalia/121209/somali-troops-capture-town-jowhar-alshabaab