Al-Shabab Retakes Key Somalia Port City Of Merca


Al-Shabab



Islamist militant group al-Shabab has taken control of the port city Merca, residents say.

Merca, some 70km (45 miles) south-west of Mogadishu, is now the biggest town under al-Shabab control.

African Union forces who had held the port city for three-and-a-half years withdrew earlier on Friday morning.

The loss is a major setback for the African Union force (Amisom) in its decade-long battle against al-Shabab, the BBC’s Tomi Oladipo says.

The governor of Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region Ibrahim Adam told the AFP news agency that al-Shabab secured control without fighting.

“Amisom forces moved out at midday and the local administration and all other Somali security forces left a few minutes later – and then heavily armed al-Shabab militants entered the town,” local resident Ibrahim Mumin told AFP.


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“They have been addressing residents at the district headquarters,” he added.

Another resident, Mohamed Sabriye, told AP news agency that al-Shabab fighters had hoisted their flag over the city’s police station and administrative headquarters.

The withdrawal from Merca comes three weeks after al-Shabab overran an African Union military base outside the southern Somali town of el-Ade, saying they had killed about 100 Kenyans soldiers.

Kenya has not said how many of its troops died.

Al-Shabab was ousted from the capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011, but still has a presence in large areas of southern Somalia and often stages attacks across the country.

 

-bbc



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