September 29, 2012 - 14:04 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Al-Shabab rebels pulled out of a key port city in southern Somalia, the group said Saturday, Sept 29, a day after Kenyan troops invaded and marched toward the city center and seaside port that long served as the militants' key source of funding, officials said, according to The Associated Press.
Residents in Kismayo said they woke to find police and government headquarters abandoned by the militants, sparking a looting spree of the government and police headquarters.
"They withdrew from here last night. The town is not under anyone's control now," Mohamed Hassan, a resident, said. "People feel some relief now. We hope no more fighting will take place."
The withdrawal came about 24 hours after Kenyan forces made a beach landing and as inland troops from Somalia and Kenya moved toward the port city from the west.
Col. Cyrus Oguna, a spokesman for the Kenyan military, said five al-Shabab fighters were killed in a battle overnight. Two commanders were killed in the fighting, the military said.
He said the Kenyan forces are still verifying the reports that al-Shabab had pulled out of Kismayo. "For now we are treating it as a theory," he said.
The Kenyan troops landed by boats in the northern part of Kismayo on Friday and moved toward the port, he said. He said that al-Shabab lost "many, many militants, including some key commanders" during battles on Friday that involved helicopter gunships.
Al-Shabab used Twitter to announce the news it was leaving Kismayo.