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Somalia declares victory over Islamist rebels

Somalia declares victory over Islamist rebels
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The Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed says his military had defeated Islamist rebels battling to oust his Western-backed government.

Fighters from the al Qaeda linked al Shabaab group have been withdrawing from Mogadishu. Some reports say they are now more than 100 kilometres from the capital. The pullout follows a string of fierce gun battles late on Friday. But the militant group claims its retreat is only tactical and that its four-year insurgency will carry on.

It means there is unlikely to be any peace in the war-ravaged country that has been without an effective central government for 20-years.

Crucially, however, the way is now clear for relief groups to deliver aid to thousands of desperate people affected by the famine.

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