story geneva; font-size: small;”>AMISOM spokesperson Paddy Ankunda says the seizure of the strategic town situated 30 kilometers north of Mogadishu is a big step forward in the total liberation of the war-torn country from the fleeing Al Shabaab militia.
viagra approved geneva;”>“Balad is a key strategic town and its loss is an enormous setback for Al?Shabaab, being the gateway connecting Mogadishu to central Somalia regions as well as the Puntland regions,” says Ankunda.
The town is 50kms from Jowhar, the provincial town of Middle Shabelle region.
Balad is an area rich in farmland and a bread?basket for most of Somalia.
“Securing Balad allows the local population in this important farming region to build their livelihoods free from extortion of money which Al?Shabaab used to fund their daily terror activities against the Somali people,” adds Ankunda.
On the importance of Balad town the AMISOM Deputy Force Commander Brigadier General Audace Nduwumunsi says: “The Al?Shabaab were using Balad to launch attacks on Mogadishu. Now that it is liberated, the city of Mogadishu will be much secure from terrorist activities”.
Last week Somali leaders agreed to the country’s draft transitional federal constitution and emphasized the principles of ending the transition by August this year.
The Al?Qaeda backed terror group has in recent months lost most strategic towns in both south and central regions of the country.
They include Afgooye, a critical corridor linking the capital Mogadishu and the agricultural town of Afgooye on the Shabelle River, which was secured after a joint operation launched between AU and Somali forces.
Also recently, troops from the Burundian AMISOM contingent took control of the market town of Elasha Biyaha, the last remaining stronghold of the Al Qaeda-affiliated terror group, al Shabaab, on the corridor.
The week-long operation, code-named Operation Free Shabelle, enabled a free flow of civilian traffic between Afgooye and Mogadishu, and provided the opportunity for humanitarian agencies to access the area.
Observers say should AMISOM sustain its momentum, Somalia could be fully liberated in the not-too-distant future.