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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs