African Union, Somali Troops Capture Islamist-Held Town
[An Nahar] Somali government troops and African Union
...a union consisting of 53 African states, most run by dictators of one flavor or another. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established in 2002, the AU is the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was even less successful...
forces seized the formerly Islamist-held town of Burhakaba on Wednesday, the latest loss for the al-Qaeda linked Shabaab fighters, commanders said.
Soldiers backed by tanks stormed the town from three directions but the hardline Shabaab had already fled before the assault, said Somalia's deputy army commander Abdikarin Yusuf Dhegobadan.
|Soldiers backed by tanks stormed the town from three directions but the hardline Shabaab had already fled before the assault|
"Our forces took control of Burhakaba without a fight, and we are clearing any bombs that might have been planted," he told news hounds.
The capture of Burhakaba marks a key stage in efforts to open up the main highway from the capital Mogadishu running northwest to Baidoa, a major town wrested from the Shabaab by Æthiopian troops last year.
Burhakaba lies some 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest from Mogadishu, leaving some 60 kilometers (40 miles) until AU troops can reach Baidoa by road.
"The situation is calm and the government and AU troops are now patrolling in the streets," Mohamed Nurow, a resident, told Agence La Belle France Presse by phone.
Mahamet Saleh Annadif, AU representative for Somalia, said the capture of the town marked the "determination" of the 17,000-strong AU force "to support the people of Somalia".
The town is the latest in a string of Shabaab bases to fall to AU and Somali forces in recent months, with Æthiopian troops also battling the gunnies from the west.
man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them...
the Shabaab remain a potent threat, still controlling rural areas as well as carrying out guerrilla attacks in areas apparently under government control.
Some, retreating ahead of AU-led assaults, have relocated to the northern Golis mountains in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland
...a region in northeastern Somalia, centered on Garowe in the Nugaal province. Its leaders declared the territory an autonomous state in 1998. Puntland and the equally autonomous Somaliland seem to have avoided the clan rivalries and warlordism that have typified the rest of Somalia, which puts both places high on the list for Islamic subversion...
Posted by: Fred 2013-02-28