Somali, AU troops seize Alshabab stronghold
Mogadishu (Alshahid)-African Union and Somali troops captured an Alshabab stronghold outside the capital city of Mogadishu on Friday, claiming another key victory against the al Qaeda-backed rebel group.
The capture of Afgoye by the AU force (AMISOM) and Somali government troops, who already control most of Mogadishu, also paves the way to securing a corridor to the capital that would allow easy access to humanitarian aid to residents.
“We are now fully controlling Afgoye town,” Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, the AMISOM spokesman, told Reuters.
More than 300,000 displaced Somalis live in and around Afgoye, 20 miles north of Mogadishu. Thousands fled the area in overloaded vans and donkey carts the previous two days amid gunfire and explosions.
Alshabab vowed Saturday to intensify the war against government and African Union troops, despite the fall of their key stronghold of Afgoye, the latest in a string of military losses.
“God willing we will continue the war and we will win the battle without doubt,” said Abdiaziz Abu Musab, spokesman for the group.
Sporadic gunfire and occasional artillery shelling was reported early Saturday in the Elasha Biyaha and Sinka-Dheer areas, between Afgoye town and Mogadishu, with government army commanders saying they had surrounded diehard Alshabab fighters.