AU, Somali forces seize rebel bases

2011-10-10 17:50

Mogadishu - African Union and Somali government troops said on Monday they seized key positions from Islamist insurgents during an offensive to flush out the last rebel pockets in Mogadishu.

"Operations have started to take control of the northern corridor and drive the al-Qaeda-linked extremists out of the city," the government said in a statement.

The forces took a former pasta factory building, two key junctions and two districts in the northeast of the city, giving them control of movement into Mogadishu from the northern front.

"The pasta factory compound was an operational hub for the extremists in which they shell civilian targets. This operation is intended to save the lives of the people who have returned to their homes," the statement added.

The AU and Somali government forces began the offensive on Saturday to expel remnant Islamist rebels left in Mogadishu after Shabaab fighters abandoned most of their positions there in August.

The drive comes nearly a week after the insurgents carried out their worst ever suicide attack in Mogadishu, killing at least 82 people and demonstrating they were still able to wreak havoc deep inside the city.