Somali Military Takes Al-Shabab’s Last Stronghold in Middle Shabelle  

Somalia’s military says it has liberated the last town held by al-Shabab militants in the Middle Shabelle region, killing more than 150 fighters, including five foreigners.

Speaking to journalists in Mogadishu Thursday, Somalia’s Defense Ministry Spokesman Abdullahi Ali Anod said the army, backed by local clan militia, liberated the strategic town of Runirgod.

The town was the last stronghold of the al-Qaida-affiliated, al-Shabab Islamist militants in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region.

Anod said the army entered villages around the town early Thursday morning and engaged militants in fierce firefights.

He says today we want talk about the latest victories of the Somali national army and units of the armed, local revolutionary forces. Anod says around six AM the forces led by the national army took control of Runirgod in Middle Shabelle region.

The spokesman said five foreign fighters were among militants killed in the fighting but gave no details on country of origin.

He did not provide any casualty figures on the Somali military’s side.

Al-Shabab’s social media did not immediately publish a response to the military’s announcement.

But the militants Telegram channel said they had carried out a bomb attack on security personnel in the same region, killing four troops.

Somalia’s military did not response to the alleged bombing or casualties.

Runirgod is 240 kilometers north of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

It is the second major town that the army says it has liberated from the Islamist militant group in less than a month.

Somalia’s national army, backed by local militias, have gone on the offensive against the group since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared an “all-out war” against the group after his May elect

The insurgents have also carried out deadly attacks in the Horn of Africa nation’s capital.

The group in late November attacked the Villa Rays hotel in Mogadishu, killing eight people and losing five of their own.

The Villa Rays hotel was frequented by Somali government and security officials and located near the presidential palace.

The militant group also stormed the Hayat hotel in central Mogadishu in August.

Security forces ended the siege after nearly 30 hours of fighting that left 21 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

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