Somali troops backed by African peacekeepers on Sunday recaptured the last major port in Somalia held by Al Shabaab, removing a key source of revenue for the Islamist militia.
The move was another blow for Al-Qaeda’s main affiliate in Africa and came just a month after the death of their leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in a US air and drone strike.
The African Union’s AMISOM force, which draws 22,000 soldiers from six nations, said Barawe, 200 kilometres (120 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, fell without “much resistance from the terrorist group.”
“The terrorists used the port there to import arms as well as receive foreign fighters into their ranks,” an AMISOM statement said.
“The group also used Barawe to export charcoal to the Middle East, a lucrative multi-million dollar business that served as their main source of funding,” the statement said.
Provincial governor Abdukadir Mohamed Nur said the situation was “calm and the militiamen had fled before the forces reached the town”.
“They could not put up resistance and have emptied their positions,” he said.
Al Shabaab exported charcoal through Barawe to Gulf countries, earning at least $25 million (19 million euros) a year from the trade according to UN estimates.