Somalia and AU forces capture key militant stronghold

Published: July 22, 2015

Somalia and AU forces capture key militant strongholdSomali government forces supported by African Union peacekeepers and tanks on Wednesday took control of a key Islamist rebel town, officials and witnesses said.
The allied forces entered the town of Bardheere, some 400 kilometres West of Mogadishu at around midday with no resistance from Al Qaeda affiliated Shabaab rebels.
“We have taken control of Bardhere and the surrounding villages. The al Shabaab terrorists fled the area before we arrived,” said a Somali army spokesman in the town.
The offensive which was launched last week caused many residents to flee from the city, frightened at the prospect of a deadly battle.
Army officials have called the residents who fled to come back.
Bardhere, which is famous for its agricultural activities and capital of the Gedo region, has been a major stronghold for the al-Shabaab militants in the last five years.
The allied forces have achieved major victories in their battle against al-Shabaab insurgents across the country, particularly in the Southern regions, since 2012.
Al Shabaab have lost all key towns but still control large swathes of rural areas and have remained dangerous.
Though al-Shabaab was pushed out of key towns in South and Central Somalia, the group has been able to hit high-profile targets in Mogadishu’s heavily fortified areas, including the national courts, the UN compound, the Turkish embassy, and popular gathering places.
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