News / Africa

Somali Forces Move Into al-Shabab Stronghold

In this photo released by the African Union-UN Information Support Team, Kenyan soldiers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia at their sector headquarters in the town of Dhobley, Somalia, September 30, 2012.
In this photo released by the African Union-UN Information Support Team, Kenyan soldiers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia at their sector headquarters in the town of Dhobley, Somalia, September 30, 2012.
Witnesses in Kismayo confirm to VOA that Somali government forces have entered the city on Monday and are taking control of former al-Shabab bases.

But Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, warned that al-Shabab has been "effectively degraded" but not entirely defeated.

African Union and Somali troops have entered the Somali port city, two days after the militant group al-Shabab announced it had deserted the city for tactical reasons.  But a Somali army commander in Kismayo says the militants still have a presence in the city and pose a serious threat to incoming forces.

Somali army commander Abdullahi Olow confirmed to VOA some forces entered Kismayo Monday, after days of being stationed at the outskirts of the city.

“We entered the city to do patrols and we have pulled some of them," said Olow. "We have built some defensive positions. The situation looks a bit calm. Now we will start security operations.

 Al-Shabab Timeline

  • 2006 - Launches insurgency to take control of Somalia and impose strict Islamic law
  • 2008 - U.S. declares al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization
  • 2009 - Seizes control of parts of Mogadishu and the port city Kismayo
  • 2010 - Expands control across central and southern Somalia, carries out deadly bombing in Kampala, Uganda
  • 2011 - Blocks drought/famine aid from areas under its control
  • 2011 - East African leaders declare al-Shabab a regional threat; Ethiopian, Kenyan troops enter Somalia to pursue the group, which is driven out of Mogadishu
  • 2012 - Declares itself an al-Qaida ally, loses ground in Somalia, abandons strategic coastal stronghold Kismayo
  • 2013 - Attacks Mogadishu court complex, killing more than 30 and attacks mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 69 people
Early Friday, Kenyan forces launched a long-awaited assault against al-Shabab militants in Kismayo, sending soldiers into the city from the beach.  Later that evening, the militants left their defensive positions and announced they had closed down their offices.

Despite al-Shabab’s exit, city residents still live in fear, as the security situation remains volatile. 

Somali local media report some remaining al-Shabab fighters and clan militias have killed nine civilians, including clan elders, in the last three days.

Olow says the militant group, despite deserting the port city, still poses a serious threat to his forces and civilians.

“First, we built defensive positions at junction points in the city and roads leading into the town.  Next we will enter the city and take the control with a lot of care," said Olow. "There are some explosives around, they are some remnants of al-Shabab armed with pistols assassinating people.  It’s because of security reasons we didn’t enter the city.” 

Security might be a reason that allied forces did not immediately enter the city, but experts say politics is another factor that has delayed troops going in and filling the power vacuum left behind by al-Shabab.

Mediation talks are going on in Nairobi with Somali clans who are arguing about control of the port city that was once al-Shabab’s financial hub.

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: missihoun from: henri
October 02, 2012 6:19 AM
i just want comment on al shabab.
truly al shabab is fighting for something may be the government of somali knows or not.from my view point i would like al shabab leader, un secretary and somalie government to seat on the same talbe to talk and find solution to will work perfectly and peace will prevail.

by: zozimos from: USA
October 01, 2012 1:38 PM
While they are dealing with pirates, perhaps they could also deal with the the European and Asian think?

"The other more damaging economically, environmentally and security-wise is the massive illegal foreign fishing piracy that have been poaching and destroying the Somali marine resources for the last 18 years following the collapse of the Somali regime in 1991. With its usual double standards when such matters concern Africa, the “international community” comes out in force to condemn and declare war against the Somali fishermen pirates while discreetly protecting the numerous Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing fleets there from Europe, Arabia and the Far East. "


by: Anonymous
October 01, 2012 1:00 PM
No Mercy for a Merciless Tyrant.
Assad should be hung for the world to see. I look forward to the day someone disables Assad and puts him in his place. He has killed enough men, women, and children of Syria, he has killed 30,000 too many innocent civillians. If you kill even one or two people in California, you usually get a death sentence.

by: Paul Gesimba from: Nairobi
October 01, 2012 11:39 AM
To finally defeat the Al- Shabab The US Government must lend AMISOM a hand .An aircraft carrier from one of their Indian Ocean fleet patrolling the area could send a clear signal that their time is up and they need to sue for Peace or surrender The US Navy could also set up a Naval Base in the area to deal with pirates ,illegal trade and set up an arms embargo .
In Response

by: Githii from: Nairobi
October 02, 2012 1:39 AM
Why would the US set up a naval base in the Indian ocean? KDF and the Somali army have demonstrated that they can actually do stuff on their own with minimal help. If the al shabaab dont control any stake at the port, piracy might be a thing of the past. All the piracy was being carried out because the pirates were in control of Kismayu (port)
In Response

by: vanyak
October 01, 2012 1:30 PM
Of course. Let's waste even more money helping a nation which is in much better financial state then we are. They don't have 16 tril debt, don't they?
In Response

by: Economist from: U.S.
October 01, 2012 1:18 PM
There is no funding for such an operation. Let the people build their own society from within.

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