African Union troops in Somalia are edging closer to seizing Kismayu after the capture of Marka, the third largest port in southern Somalia.The forces, which are operating under the umbrella of the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), pushed the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab out of the town, which has been one of militants’ key havens.
According to military sources, the dawn operation by Ugandan and Burundian forces which also included the Somali National Army met little resistance as they advanced to the nearby Shalamboot, where they erected a defence pillar. “The capture of Marka is critical for Amisom’s future operations to liberate the city of Kismayu, the extremists’ largest source of illicit revenue,” said the military in a statement to the media. Amisom spokesman Ali Aden Hamoud confirmed the capture, saying the troops seized towns and villages without casualties. After the Kenya Defence Forces captured various towns in southern Somalia which culminated in the liberation of Afmadow town in June and the defeat of Al-Shabaab from the Afgoye corridor by the Somali National Army, Ugandan and Burundian forces, many Al-Shabaab commanders fled to Marka and other southern towns like Jillip and Buale.Marka has been an exit point for international fighters and their families escaping through the Indian Ocean waters as they flee from the ongoing crushing of Al-Shabaab. (READ more)