By Konye Obaji Ori
Mogadishu, Somalia, July 14, 2012 – The African Union (AU) has moved
closer in its attempt to help the Somali government regain control of
the war torn country following another victory over the radical Islamist
Although the international community had established a UN-backed
government in Somalia, al-Shabaab has limited the government to a few
blocks in the capital city of Mogadishu while it controlled the majority
of the Horn-of-Africa-nation.
But on Wednesday morning, Ethiopian troops, pro-government militias and
the African Union force - which has US and European funding have helped
the UN-backed interim government expand its control outside Mogadishu.
The AU force was boosted earlier this to nearly 18,000 soldiers before
it seized a major Islamist militant training base this week.
The Somalia army said al-Shabaab fighters withdrew without a fight.
According to experts, the capture of Lanta-Buro west of the capital
Mogadishu by AU forces is a major setback for the al-Shabaab.
In recent months, Al-Shabaab has lost several key positions, including
Afgoye near the capital, Baidoa in central Somalia and the southern town
of Afmadow. The AU forces are now targeting the coastal town of Merka.
In the town of Baidoa, near the Ethiopian border, local residents told
reporters that al-Shabaab had been forcing young men and even boys to
fight in a frantic attempt to strengthen their numbers.
This has, however, led to waves of defections. But the battle against
al-Shabaab remains complex and is far-from over.
Despite the successes made by the AU forces, there have been some
futility. The once captured town of El Bur - a strategic al-Shabaab
training camp – was re-occupied by the militants after Ethiopian troops
The balance of power in Somalia had shifted among a makeshift of rival
clan warlords until al-Shabaab became the dominant force. The interim
government remained powerless and limited to a few blocks in Mogadishu.
However, the transitional period and the mandate of the UN-backed
interim government come to an end by 20 August.
In the meantime, the AU says at the end of the mandate of the interim
government it is prepared to assist Somalia elect a president.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991
paving way for lawlessness.
Source: The Africa Report