AU, Somali troops capture Alshabaab stronghold

Mogadishu (Alshahid)-Somali troops and African Union forces have captured the town of Jowhar, 90 kilometres northeast of Mogadishu, from the Alshabaab militants, officials say.

“The capture of Jowhar will improve security for the civilian population in Hiiran and the Lower and Middle Shabelle regions,” Amisom Commander Lt. Gen. Andrew Guti said.

The joint forces faced little resistance as they entered the town, which has served as a major base for the al-Shabaab militants, who have been pushed out of other areas in southern Somalia.

The loss of Jowhar is a significant blow to Alshabaab, who have lost a string of towns in recent months to the Somali and AMISOM force, as well as to Kenyan and Ethiopian troops who invaded Somalia last year.

Alshabaab militants spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Musab confirmed that their forces had pulled out of the town.

“We have withdrawn our troops from Jowhar for strategic reasons,” he said. “We will hunt the invaders from inside and outside Jowhar.”

Jowhar, the regional capital of Middle Shabelle region, had been under the militants’ control since 2009.