MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Fighters loyal to the Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group Al-Shabaab have seized the strategic town of Mataban in central Somalia without resistance from government troops, in one of the latest gains by militants, who also captured two other nearby towns hours earlier.
Photos circulated online showed militants brandishing their black flag and patrolling the streets of Mataban, some 100km south of Galmudug capital, Dhusamareb.
The town changed hands between government troops and Ahlu Sunnah fighters months earlier, but has been quite as rival forces clashed in the nearby town of Guriel, which has returned to the hands of pro-government regional administration.
Al-Shabaab confirmed that its fighters had taken Mataban after entering the nearby towns of Ba’da and Bergadid, all in Hiran region, though regional authorities and the Somali army have made no comments on the developments.
The armed militant group, which has been waging a deadly fighting to topple the Western backed federal government based in Mogadishu bolstered by the African Union peacekeepers, has taken a number of towns in central Somalia, including Ba’adwayne over the past months.
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