Somali government forces backed by African Union troops have taken full control of a strategic town in southern Somalia after hundreds of al-Shabab fighters vacated the area following a few hours of resistance, Press TV reports.
On Saturday, Somali military officials told Press TV that the bulk of al-Shabab fighters had fled their key stronghold in Afgoye town, located in the Shabeellaha Hoose region of southern Somalia, 27 kilometers (16 miles) northwest of Mogadishu, after columns of troops moved in to capture the area.
“Our troops have captured all parts of Afgoye and most of the town is under the coalition's control. The troops are now consolidating their positions and preparing for the final push to flush out al-Shabab remnants,” Somali General Abdullahi Osman Agey said.
The loss of Afgoye is another major blow for al-Shabab fighters, who have been on the back foot for several months. However, on Saturday they vowed to intensify their war against government and African Union troops.
“We will continue the war and we will win the battle without doubt," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, a spokesman for al-Shabab's military operations, said.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
The weak Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab fighters for the past five years and is propped up by a 12,000-strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti.