Government forces recaptured a strategic district linking the country’s southern and central regions after the al Shabab withdrew its militants on Saturday.
Residents in Hawadley district, located on the outskirts of the Balad district, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, said they saw Somali military enter and seize the district after Al Shabaab fighters completed their withdrawal.
The district has a bridge connecting the country’s central and lower regions, which the group used to transfer goods and equipment to their militants in central and southern areas.
Colonel Abukar Boonow, the supervisor of the military unit that took over the district, said that the Somali National Army would establish an operating base in the area to advance the security of the Jowhar and Balad districts.
Somali government forces backed by the local pro-government militia groups have liberated over 40 villages and killed over 500 al-Shabab militants in the past three weeks in operations in central Somalia.