News / Africa

Faltering al-Shabab Surrenders Strategic Somali City

Al-Qaida linked rebels have surrendered Somalia's third largest city, Baidoa, without a fight, fleeing in the face of a joint offensive by pro-government forces and Ethiopian troops.

Al-Shabab rebel militias pulled out of Baidoa as truckloads of pro-government troops and Ethiopian tanks rolled in.

The deputy prime minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, Mohamed Mahmud Ibrahim, said the al-Qaida linked militants offered surprisingly little resistance as they fled a city they won in hard fighting three years ago. The minister spoke by phone with VOA's Somali service.

He said al-Shabab forces withdrew without a fight, and government forces are in full control of Baidoa.

Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti called the re-capture of Baidoa a significant defeat for the rebels in a region that has been considered their stronghold.

"This is the beginning and the end for al-Shabab, and this is perhaps a big omen for the beginning of the peaceful situation for Somalis in general. This is the golden moment that the Somalis and all peace loving people in the region should capitalize on," said Mufti.

Residents contacted by VOA say Baidoa was calm Wednesday night. The strategic city is located on a main road 250 kilometers northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab once controlled most of southern and central Somalia, including most of the capital, but has steadily lost ground in recent months, despite a newly-formalized alliance with al-Qaida.

The group's fighters were reported Wednesday to have fled down the highway toward a rebel held town closer to the capital. Pro-Shabab websites quoted rebel leaders as saying they would regroup and switch to guerrilla warfare tactics.

The capture of Baidoa comes on the eve of an international conference on Somalia in London. Senior representatives of more than 40 governments and multilateral organizations are expected to attend.

Also Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council voted to increase the strength of the African Union military force in Somalia from 12,000 to more than 17,000. The increase, along with an expansion in its areas of operation, reflects Kenya's decision to join the so-called AMISOM force last October. AMISOM had previously been largely composed of troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.

Ethiopia also has sent several thousand troops into Somalia to support forces of the Transitional Federal Government. The Ethiopian troops operate independently of AMISOM.

The joint military offensive is putting pressure on al-Shabab from three sides. Kenyan forces have been moving steadily up from the south, the Ethiopian troops are pushing in from the west, and the AMISOM troops are expanding their reach south from their base in Mogadishu.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991.







You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid