Skip to main content

Somali army captures key town from Al-Shabaab rebels

By Omar Nor for CNN
December 10, 2012 -- Updated 0300 GMT (1100 HKT)
This photo released by the African Union-United Nations on November 18 shows soldiers of the Somali National Army.
This photo released by the African Union-United Nations on November 18 shows soldiers of the Somali National Army.
  • Somali National Army and African Union troops take control of town of Jowhar, AU says
  • Islamist Al-Shabaab militants gave up the town without a fight, a resident says
  • The town had been a major base for Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia
  • Jowhar is at a strategic crossroads north of Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- The Somali National Army, along with African Union troops, on Sunday launched a long-awaited offensive against al Qaeda-linked Somali rebels and captured the town of Jowhar, the AU and residents said.

The joint forces faced little resistance, the African Union Mission for Somalia said in a press release, adding that Jowhar had been a major base for Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia.

Abdi Isac, a local resident, said by phone from Jowhar that the allied troops peacefully entered the city after the Islamist militants pulled out without a fight or firing a single shot.

Government forces and AU tanks were visible encircling the town and moving cautiously into the police stations and administrative offices in Jowhar to secure the city, residents said.

The Al-Shabaab fighters headed toward the nearby rural area that is their stronghold, reports said.

Jowhar, 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of the capital, Mogadishu, lies at a strategic crossroads of routes to the north and south of the country.

The capture of the town "will go a long way towards improving security for the civilian population" in the region, the AU commander said, according to the press release.

The rebels continue to hold small rural areas in central and southern Somalia but are being squeezed out of some parts by Kenyan and Ethiopian troops, which launched incursions inside Somalia in October 2011 in support of the beleaguered Western-backed Somali government.

Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.