AU-backed troops attack Shabab positions in Mogadishu
MOGADISHU: African Union-backed Somali government troops attacked hardline Shabab insurgent positions at dawn on Friday in the war-torn capital of Mogadishu, officials said.
An artillery barrage first poured down on a northeast district — which AU forces claim was already largely abandoned by civilians — before tanks and ground troops moved into the area. “We have advanced on their last positions in Suqaholaha District, taking control of key locations,” said Somali military commander Abdulahi Ali Anod.
“The operations will continue until we get rid of the terrorist remnants, who are now on the run,” he added.
The assault is the latest in a long-running offensive to drive the Al-Qaeda allied Shabab from holdout positions, after most of the insurgents last year left fixed defences in Mogadishu and switched to guerrilla attacks.
The Suqaholaha neighborhood is the last main Shabab stronghold in the anarchic capital, and the attack comes two weeks after AU troops launched a similar offensive in southern Mogadishu. “It will extend the city’s defences and deny the Al-Qaeda backed terrorists important ground from which they have been targeting the city’s population,” the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said in a statement.
Extremist Shabab gunmen have been fighting to topple the weak Western-backed Somali government in Mogadishu, where the administration survives under the protection of the 10,000-strong AU force.
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