MOGADISHU (Alshahid)-Somalia’s President Sharif Ahmed said on Saturday his military had defeated Alshabab rebels battling to overthrow his government after the group began pulling its fighters out of the capital Mogadishu.
“The Somali government welcomes the success attained by the Somali government forces backed by AMISOM who defeated the enemy of Alshabab,” the President told a press conference at his residence.
“We are very happy — the fruits of bloodshed and the wars that we fought against the rebels are finally attained,” Ahmed said.
“The enemy is defeated, they pulled out of Mogadishu — and we will fight them to eliminate them from the rest of the country,” Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said.
Alshabab insurgents abandoned several key positions in Mogadishu overnight that were then taken over by government troops.
On Saturday, Ali Mohamud Rage, Alshabab spokesman, announced that, “The Mujahideens have completely vacated Mogadishu for tactical purposes.”
He said that they would change its “fighting strategy into hit and run attacks, where the Mujahideens will attack on the spot wherever government and African Union forces are based.”
A 9,000-strong African peacekeeping force and Somali government forces had been steadily wresting control of rubble-strewn Mogadishu from the militants this year. Alshabab’s pullout followed a string of fierce gun battles late on Friday.
Until Saturday morning, government and AU troops controlled just over half of Mogadishu, including the airport and port, while the Alshabab controlled the city’s north-east.