Somalia, ATMIS laud recapture of three strategic towns amid intense operations

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MOGADISHU, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Somalia and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) have commended significant gains made by the security forces in liberating three strategic towns in two days and vowed to intensify operations against al-Shabab in the country.

The Special Representative of the African Union Commission Chairperson Mohammed El-Amine Souef and the Somali government in separate statements lauded the security forces for recapturing El-Dhere, Harardhere, and Galad towns in Galmudug State, central Somalia, Monday and Tuesday.

Souef said the AU mission will continue to provide the necessary support to ensure Somalia is free of terrorism and related activities

"Al-Shabab has lost ground and together with our Somali brothers we will continue to rid these Khawarij terrorists from Somalia to give the population security, stability, and peace which are important to economic and social development," he said.

The Somali government said the three strategic towns which were recaptured with the support of the locals had been al-Shabab strongholds for the past decade.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism said the latest military victory signals the imminent end of the al-Shabab menace and the birth of a new, terror-free Somalia.

"The Somali government and its citizens have been collaborating in a popular uprising against the terror group which has been behind runaway lawlessness, instability, destruction, and bloodshed in advancing its selfish causes," the ministry said, disclosing that the Somali National Army (SNA) on Tuesday repulsed a cowardly attack by al-Shabab extremists in Hawadle village in HirShabelle State, killing more than 20 militants.

The government reiterated that the security forces are committed to carrying out its mandate in strict compliance with its obligations under international humanitarian law, human rights law, Islamic law, and Somali customary rules of warfare amid intense military operations.

The extremists were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 but the terrorist group is still capable of conducting attacks, targeting government installations, military bases, hotels, and public places. Enditem

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