Somali Gov't Forces Seize 2 Towns from Insurgents
    2011-03-08 03:59:33     Xinhua      Web Editor: Guo
Somali government troops on Monday captured two more frontier towns from Islamist rebels, the latest of series of gains against insurgent fighters.

The Somali officials said government forces took control of the town of Luq near the border with Ethiopia and Elwaq near Kenya frontier in south Somalia following brief clashes with Islamist militants who controlled the towns for the past two years. "We are making progress against the anti-peace elements in the south of the country and in the capital Mogadishu," Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said during a press briefing in Mogadishu.

The Somali leader who was clad in military uniform during the press conference at his residence in Mogadishu asked the Somali people to support the government offensive which kicked off early last month and is aimed at retaking control of the war ravaged country from rebel forces.

Somali government forces backed by almost 8,000 African Union peacekeeping troops based in the chaotic capital of Mogadishu managed to push back rebel fighters in Mogadishu and in southern border towns as part of much-awaited government onslaught against Islamist militants of Al Shabaab.

The group which boats of its link with the international terror network of Al Qaeda led by Osama Bin laden who himself on a number of occasions "blessed" Somali groups fight against the fragile but internationally recognized government.

Somali government on Monday confirmed it was getting logistical support from neighboring Ethiopia which has ended two year presence in Somalia in 2009 following its intervention in the war- weary Horn of African nation in a bid to prop up the weak Somali government forces in the face of the deadly Islamist insurgency.

Meanwhile Somali president said he was sacking chiefs of the armed forces, security and police in an effort to reform the security forces "to better face the new challenges" as the government's drive to oust the Islamist rebels gains pace. It was not immediately clear when a replacement will be named.

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