African Union and Somali troops have entered the strategic port town of Kismayo, the former stronghold of the al-Shabaab rebel group in Somalia.
Al-Shabaab fighters came under heavy attack after Kenyan and Somali troops launched a three pronged assault from land, sea and air over the weekend.
The al-Qaeda linked militants say the barrage forced them to evacuate the city.
The hunt is now on to track down the insurgents.
Somali Defence Minister is Hussein Arab Isse:
“At this point I don’t want to say, but we do know where they went. Some of them have tried to assimilate into the local population and hide. And we are using the local Somali police in Kismayo to use their information to flush them out.”
Kenya, which borders Somalia, says it has been bearing the brunt of the instability in the country. More than 600,000 Somali refuges are in Kenya and a number of grenade attacks have been launched against Kenyan interests.
Since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991 Somalia has been in chaos with warlords and Islamist militants engaged in a brutal battle for control.