MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia’s al Shabaab militants took control of the southern port town of Marka on Friday hours after African Union troops and the Somalia National Army left, the rebels and witnesses said.
“We now control Marka police station and the entire town. AMISOM left the town early this morning,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations, told Reuters on Friday.
Residents said the militant Islamist group raised its flags inside the town, which is situated 100 kilometers (60 miles)southwest of Mogadishu, and started to preach to residents using loudspeakers.
Local police officer Hussein Elmi said they had moved out of the town to the outskirts without giving a reason for the move.
Kenyan troops, part of an African Union (AU) force in Somalia (AMISOM), took heavy losses when al Shabaab launched a dawn raid on their camp near the Kenyan border on Jan. 15, prompting the Kenyan and Somali forces to abandon some positions.
Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; Writing by Duncan Miriri; editing by Katharine Houreld