African Union and Somali government troops have seized a key town from militant group al-Shabab in southwestern Somalia.
The AU force says the capture of Tiyeglow gives the Somali government full control of the Bakool region and prevents al-Shabab from extorting high fees from vehicles using a main road that cuts through the town.
Witnesses interviewed by VOA’s Somali Service say that al-Shabab gave up the town without a fight Monday, with the militants taking refuge in nearby jungles.
The AU force says it is defusing roadside bombs planted by the militants before they fled.
Al-Shabab once controlled much of central and southern Somalia but has steadily lost territory since 2010 to African troops supporting the U.N.-backed Somali government.
The al-Qaida-linked group remains active and continues to control some rural areas. It has also killed several Somali lawmakers and attacked the Somali presidential palace in Mogadishu twice this year.