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African Union, Somali troops open key road seized from Islamists

African Union and Somali government forces have opened a key route after months of fighting, commanders said Tuesday, reaching the former Islamic stronghold of Baidoa by road for the first time. Troops from the 17,000-strong AU force have been battling for almost a year to open up the 240 kilometre (150 mile) stretch of road -- a former stronghold region of Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab -- running northwest from Mogadishu. Ethiopian troops fighting from the west captured Baidoa from the extremists last year, and AU troops later joined them, arriving by air.

African Union, Somali troops capture Islamist-held town

Somali government troops and African Union forces seized the formerly Islamist-held town of Burhakaba on Wednesday, the latest loss for the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab fighters, commanders said. Soldiers backed by tanks stormed the town from three directions but the hardline Shebab had already fled before the assault, said Somalia's deputy army commander Abdikarin Yusuf Dhegobadan. "Our forces took control of Burhakaba without a fight, and we are clearing any bombs that might have been planted," he told reporters.
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