Sunday, October 07, 2012
"Somali government forces with the support of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops have secured the strategic town of Wanlaweyn on the Afgoye to Baidoa corridor [in Somalia's Shabelle region]," AFP quoted commander of the 17,000 AMISOM force, Andrew Gutti as saying on Sunday.
“The capture of this town denies al-Shabab another source of illegal income after a string of defeats… It will also facilitate the provision of much needed humanitarian assistance to the local population… Securing Wanlaweyn will allow for free movement of the population who have been restricted until now, unable to go about their daily trade and business due to the restrictions of al-Shabab,” Gutti added.
On September 28, Kenyan forces took control of Kismayo that serves al-Shabab fighters as a major stronghold.
Kismayo is a strategically important city on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast, located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
The Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab fighters for the past five years, and is propped up by a strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti.