News24

AU, Somali troops seize Marka

2012-08-28 19:18

Mogadishu - African Union and Somali troops captured the key port of Marka from Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgents on Monday, the latest in a string of bases to be wrested off the extremists, officials said.

"We have taken Marka, we entered alongside the Somali government forces this morning," said Colonel Ali Houmed, the spokesperson for the African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom).

"There was some fighting, but not so heavy, most of the Shabaab had fled."

The loss of Marka, some 70km south of the capital Mogadishu, is another major blow for the insurgents, who have been on the back foot for several months.

AU and Somali troops have made significant gains in recent months against Shabaab, although the Islamists remain a major security threat. Ethiopian troops are also battling the militants from the south and west.

The loss of Marka leaves the Shabaab with two major ports in southern Somalia - Barawe and the key rebel bastion of Kismayo - although an international naval blockade has already greatly squeezed maritime access there.

The Shabaab abandoned their last fixed bases in Mogadishu a year ago, where they have since reverted to guerrilla tactics, claiming a series of suicide attacks and roadside bombs.