The key port, located 240 kilometers south of the capital, Mogadishu, had been held by al-Shabab since 2008. The insurgents controlled the port to export $25 million worth of charcoal a year to Persian Gulf countries, which they used to fund their fight against the internationally backed government.
Somali military official Abdi Mire said Sunday government forces are “in full control” of Barawe. Authorities said the al-Shabab militiamen fled by land and sea as the government troops approached the city.
The loss of Barawe comes just a month after al-Shabab’s supreme leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed in a U.S. drone and aircraft strike.
An al-Shabab commander, Mohamed Abu Abdallah, vowed Saturday that even if the insurgents lost Barawe, they would continue their attacks on Somali troops and the peacekeeping forces drawn from six African Union nations.
While controlling Barawe, al-Shabab applied its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law, ordering executions, floggings and amputations for various crimes.