Somali government forces backed by the African Union troops have expanded their area of operations in south Somalia following their recent seizure of Wanlaweyn town, some 90 kms north west of the war torn capital Mogadishu.
The town is the latest to fall to the allied forces from the Al-Shabaab that has been on the back foot in the past year. The security forces also secured Balli Doogle Airbase, a former air force training base, 11kms from Wanla Weyn.
AMISOM forces fighting in sector 1, that comprises Banadir region, Mogadishu and the Shabelle regions hope to link up the liberated towns in southern Somalia to Baidoa town soon. AMISOM also feels that the advance is expected to deny fleeing Al Shabaab fighters from seeking refuge and creating bases in other regions of the country.
Al-Shabaab fighters has lost vast land in south and central Somalia to Somali and AMISOM troops in the past months following a major military offensive.
The Somali Defence Ministry however thanks the East African countries for assisting Somalia in its fight against Al-Shabaab fighters, a group that has also carried out attacks in neighbouring Kenya and Uganda.
Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti currently comprise the African Union force in Somalia. Thousands of Ethiopian troops are also stationed in south and central Somali towns, assisting the Somali government forces in pushing back Al-Shabaab fighters.
In early October, AMISOM troops began their 211 km advance from Afgooye to Baidoa with aim of connecting the two regions. Wanla Weyn town falls at a strategic junction linking the two Shabelle regions to Baidoa in south Somalia and Beletweyne in central Somalia. Kismayo town in South Somalia also fell to the control of Kenyan troops in September fighting under the banner of AMISOM.
Despite their exits from major towns, Al-Shabaab fighters are still highly active in southern and central Somalia and have carried out attacks in cities they no longer control creating a security crisis for the new post transitional government based here in Mogadishu.