Somalia Islamists 'Leave Kismayo' Amid AU Attack

by
staff
Islamist militants in Somalia say they have withdrawn from their southern stronghold of Kismayo, following an African Union military attack.

Somalia

Islamist militants in Somalia say they have withdrawn from their southern stronghold of Kismayo, following an African Union military attack.

Kenyan and Somali forces launched a beach assault on al-Shabab's last major bastion on Friday but encountered resistance heading to the city centre.

The African Union forces are not yet thought to have control of the city.

Kenyan troops are part of a force trying to wrest control of the country for the new UN-backed president.

Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage told AFP news agency: "The military command of Shabab mujahideen ordered a tactical retreat at midnight."

Speaking to Reuters, the same spokesman confirmed the withdrawal, but added: "The enemies have not yet entered the town. Let them enter Kismayo, which will soon turn into a battlefield."

Correspondents say the loss of Kismayo will be a major blow to the Islamists.

Residents of Kismayo told AFP the Islamist fighters seemed to have moved away and reported that their radio station, Radio Andalus, had gone off air.

One resident, Hassan Ali, told the agency: "We don't know where they went to... but early this morning the last military vehicle left the town."