Battle for Kismayu threatens al-Shabaab

Battle for Kismayu threatens al-Shabaab
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Fighting is continuing in the Somalian port of Kismayu. International forces launched a pre-dawn assault on the town in an effort to drive al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants from their last major stronghold.

One chief of the African Union and Somali troops that make up the Amisom intervention force, said the town was now surrounded.

Al-Shabaab has already lost other key cities including the capital, Mogadishu. But it still controls vast areas of backcountry.

Amisom re-took the port of Marka earlier this month, shortly before the country held its first presidential election in 45 years.

But according to one expert, Somalia hasn’t turned the corner just yet and the Islamic militants aren’t finished.

Patrick Smith, the editor of Africa Confidential newsletter, said: “I don’t think it is the end of al-Shabaab. I think they are retreating from Mogadishu, they will change tactics and strategy to a more guerrilla mode, they will change into civilian clothes, and they will still be a potent force.”

Somalians have known little more than war and famine for 20 years. Even if al-Shabaab can be contained and eventually defeated, it could take as long again to rebuild the shattered country.

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