The Somali government in Mogadishu has called on residents in Kismayu to co-operate with security forces after al-Shabaab rebels were ousted from the southern port.
But there are warnings that the loss of its last stronghold does not mean the islamist rebel movement is likely to end its armed struggle.
Kenyan troops, part of an African Union force, helped Somali soldiers secure Kismayu, which al-Shabaab had controlled for three years.
“We truly pacified the city without any problems. We are glad that al-Shabaab – even though they are trying to put a strong front – they are vacating,” said Somalia’s Defence Minister, Hussein Arab Isse. “This is the best scenario for us to make sure we take over the city and we assure that nothing happens to the population and we will bring an administration that truly takes care of business.”
Al-Shabaab has pulled out of several urban areas, under pressure from AU and Somali government troops.
The Kenyan army said two rebel commanders were killed. The insurgents denied the claim.
After once controlling large parts of the country, al-Shabaab rebels now use guerilla tactics. They are said to have killed several people in Kismayu.