Al-Shabab Militants Withdraw From Somali Capital

Posted August 6th, 2011 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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Somalia's U.N.-backed federal government is hailing the news that al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants have pulled out of Mogadishu.

In a statement Saturday, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said it was a “tremendous step forward” towards a more stable Somalia. He said the al-Shabab retreat was the result of military operations earlier in the week by the Somali army and African Union peacekeepers.

The prime minister said it would now be easier for international aid groups to supply food and other aid to the city.

An al-Shabab spokesman said the group began leaving its positions in Mogadishu late Friday. He called it a strategic move and said al-Shabab will remain in other towns in southern Somalia.

Al-Shabab has been fighting to topple the government. The Islamist group also has made it much more difficult for food aid to be dispersed to millions of victims of drought and famine across Somalia

The United Nations says thousands of Somalis have already died from the effects of the drought. The crisis has forced hundreds of thousands of Somalis to flee their homes in search of food and water. Many have gone to camps in Mogadishu, while others have fled to crowded refugee camps in Kenya or Ethiopia.