Frightened at the prospect of a battle between the Somali government forces backed by the African Union’s Ethiopian troops and al-Shabaab militants, Residents in two Southern Somalia towns have begun moving to safer places, Horseed Media reports.
Islamist militants fled from Somali government forces and African Union troops advancing on the south-western town of Bardhere Monday in a AMISOM-backed offensive to recapture territory from the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, a local official and residents said.
The allied troops were a few kilometers from Bardheere after retaking an area on the outskirts of the town over the weekend.
African Union and the Somali military launched a joint offensive over the weekend to drive the Islamist fighters out of towns and areas they still control in the regions of Gedo and Bay & Bakool.
‘’Al Shabaab were telling the residents to abandon the town otherwise they will recognize them as supporting the allied troops and will punish them heavily later on,’’ said one man in Bardheere.
Bardhere, which is famous for its agricultural activities and capital of the Gedo region, is some 400 km west of Mogadishu. It has been a major stronghold for the al-Shabaab militants in the last five years.
According to residents in Bardheere, al-Shabaab has removed from air their radio station which used to broadcast their propaganda.
Elsewhere, the allied forces are also closing on the strategic town of Diinsoor, in the south-western region of Bay. Al Shabaab militants are still controlling the city.
The allied forces have achieved major victories in their battle against al-Shabaab insurgents across the country, particularly in the Southern regions, since 2012.