Al-Shabab militants 'leave last stronghold' in Somalia


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The Independent Online

A resident and an official say fighters of an al-Qa'ida-linked militant group waging an insurgency against Somalia's internationally backed government have started to flee the militants' last remaining coastal stronghold in the face of advancing allied African troops.

Muse Hassan, who lives in the port city of Kismayo, said Tuesday that armed militants in pickup trucks are leaving. 

Kenya Defense Forces spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna said al-Shabab militants are fleeing toward the town of Jilib, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Kismayo. Oguna said the militants have a "sense of defeat." 

However an al-Shabab spokesman said on Twitter that the reports of militants fleeing are false. 

Claims and counter-claims made during fighting in Somalia are difficult to verify.