by Abdiqani Hassan
GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) – Somali security forces have recaptured the port town of Harardhere on the shores of the Indian Ocean in the Galmoudug region from the Islamist group Al Shabaab, Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed said on Monday. Nour, on public television.
This is a major victory for the government which last August launched a major offensive against the Islamist group. The town of Galcade, neighboring Harardhere in the center of the country, was also taken over, the minister said.
In the past, the port of Harardhere was the preferred location for pirates to attack cargo ships. The Shabaab had taken control of it in recent years.
“This means that Al Chabaab is dominated and finished. The remaining towns will also be liberated soon,” assured Abdulkadir Mohamed Nour about the movement which rose in 2007 against the government before pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda.
No comment could be obtained from a Al-Shabaab spokesperson.
While Somali officials believe victory has been achieved against the Islamist group, experts warn that Al Shabaab had already been pushed back from major cities in the past, before regrouping and taking control of areas that the army did not was unable to protect.
(with Abdi Sheikh and Aaron Ross; French version Jean Terzian)