The seizure of Afmadow came after al-Shebab fighters, who had been in control of the town for the last three years, moved out hours before troops from Somalia and Kenya with their battle wagons rolled into the town.
Al-Shebab – who are they?
According to residents in the area, Somali and Kenyan troops, who had been moving steadily closer over the past day, entered the town from two different locations.
Abdinasir Mohamed is one of Afmadow residents. He says that residents expressed a shout of joy and support to government forces.
“Somali and Kenyan troops have peacefully taken over the town,”‘ he said. “A great cheer went up from the residents as soon as al-Shebab fighters went out from the town.”
One witness also confirmed that he saw dozens of jailed prisoners being released by al-Shebab authorities before they made their way out of the town.
Afmadow is located about 100 kilometers northwest of the port town of Kismayo, the provincial capital of lower Juba region, which is the biggest and the most critical stronghold of al-Shebab militants.
The seizure of Afmadow is the second major blow to the al-qaida linked al-Shebab in less than a week.
Last week forces loyal to transitional federal government of Somalia backed by those of the AU had wrested control of Afgoi, a town 30 KM away from Mogadishu known for its productive farmlands.