Al-Shabab Loses Last Mogadishu District

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 12:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab has been driven from its last stronghold in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

Officials say Somali government and African Union forces seized control of Mogadishu's Daynile district in a joint military operation early Thursday.

A government statement calls Daynile a “strategic corridor” that connects Mogadishu to Somalia's Middle and Lower Shabelle regions.

A year ago, al-Shabab controlled all but a few blocks of the capital but has been pushed back steadily by government troops and pro-government AU peacekeepers. The militants had pulled out from most parts of the city in August.

Meanwhile, Kenyan forces continue a campaign against al-Shabab in southern Somalia.

Kenyan army spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir says Kenyan troops have taken control of Ras Kamboni, a town on the Somali coast, and are closing in on Kismayo, an important base for al-Shabab.

Kenya blames al-Shabab for the kidnapping of several foreigners in Kenyan territory — an allegation al-Shabab denies.

On Thursday, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said his country would use “all measures necessary” to ensure Kenyan peace and stability, saying the military operation was meant to protect Kenyan sovereignty.

The Kenyan army said Wednesday that it has killed at least 73 militants since launching the incursion a few days ago.

A Kenyan security minister said the government will also conduct a sweep to catch suspected al-Shabab and al-Qaida sympathizers in Nairobi.

Al-Shabab has fought since 2007 to topple the U.N.-backed Somali government and set up an Islamic state in Somalia. The group is known for public amputations and executions for alleged violations of sharia, or Islamic law.