Monday, October 15, 2012
WALAWEYN, Somalia (AP) — The rough dirt roads snake through sand dunes and hidden shrubs in the wide-open and dangerous Somali countryside that African Union peacekeepers must drive through to reach newly seized territory.
African Union troops in August forced Islamist militants from al-Shabab out of the capital, Mogadishu. Earlier this year the Ugandan and Burundian troops began taking control of suburbs of the capital. Now they are moving far to the northwest in an attempt to secure a supply line from Mogadishu to the former al-Shabab town of Baidoa.
Late last week, AMISOM and Somali troops captured the Blidogle airport, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Mogadishu. Hussein Arab Isse, Somalia's defense minister, said the troops would continue, despite guerilla attacks by al-Shabab, on the route running 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of Mogadishu.