Somali troops roll into once rebel bastion of Kismayu
By Abdi Sheikh
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Hundreds of Somali government troops and allied militia fighters deployed throughout the centre of the former al Shabaab rebel stronghold of Kismayu on Monday, sending panicked locals scrambling for cover.
Residents said there was no immediate retaliation from the al Qaeda-linked militants who fled the southern port city on Friday after Kenyan and Somali troops launched an assault by sea, air and land.
"We have now seen troops walking in the town. We are running into houses and shops have closed. We are afraid of explosions," said resident Ismail Nur.
Mohamud Farah, a spokesman for Somali's army in the southern Juba regions, said 450 government soldiers and fighters from an allied militia had deployed in the city centre to patrol the sandy streets and twisting alleyways.
Another resident, Halima Farah, said Kismayu had turned into a ghost-town. Troops had occupied the police headquarters building and district administration office, she said.
"I can also see through the cracks of windows that some of them are on the rooftops near those positions," Farah told Reuters by telephone.
Al Shabaab has said that although it had retreated from Somalia's second biggest city, its fighters were poised to engage the allied troops once they entered the city centre, threatening to turn the streets into a "battlefield".
"So far there has been no resistance," Farah said. Continued...