Bulo marer town falls in the hands of the Somali army
Mogadishu (DIPLOMAT)- Somali National Army backed by African Union troops, took control of Bulo marer town in the Lower Shabelle province, southern Somalia.
Somali government forces, backed by African Union troops, have launched a long-anticipated offensive to take more towns from the al-Qaida-linked group al-Shabab. Officials and witnesses say the offensive began early Saturday in the town of Bulomarer .
Bulo Marer town which is on the southwestern Lower Shebelle province has been the second largest base for Al Shabab fighters.
Bulo marer , has become famous for its production of bananas and other fruit, as well as hosting hundreds of thousands of cows .
According , to the security reports , the town has been a safe haven for the explosive experts of the militant group those included foreigners and who used the town as their stronghold to plan and organize the attacks.
Residents living around the towns of Golwen and Bulomarer in the Lower Shabelle province were awakened Saturday by heavy gunfire and shelling.
Security forces launched a military effort dubbed “Operation Indian Ocean” to take more ground in Southern Somalia with the aim of controlling the strategic port town of Barawe, which has been the financial hub and al-Shabab’s route used to ship weapons.
Lower Shabelle Governor Abdiqadir Sidi, speaking to VOA on the phone in Bulomarer, says the militant group put up a real fight to prevent the Somali government from taking over the two towns.
“These terrorist al-Shabab and al-Qaida, they really tried to make a resistance, we got some ambush before we got to Golwen early morning. Even after Golwen they tried to make another ambush they failed and when we came here, Bulomarer, we got heavy fighting in front of the town, inside the town and out of the town,” he said.
For years al-Shabab has vowed to topple the internationally recognized Somali government, in the recent past the group has lost ground to AU forces, but the group regularly launches sporadic attacks inside the country and neighboring countries that has sent its troops to Somalia.
Governor Sidi notes the militant group ruled the towns with an iron fist and suppressed the population.
“They refused international and local NGOs to come and assist our people, to rehabilitate canals and to open schools, even visitors cannot come to Bulomarer. The civilians are happy now and they have welcomed us,” he said.
The military offensive is being conducted as humanitarian organizations and aid workers warn of possible famine like one three years ago that killed more than 250,000 Somalis.
In coming days a political battle awaits Somali officials and how they approach it could determine the security and stability of the newly liberated towns.For more news and stories, join us on Facebook,Twitter , or contact us through our Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org