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Nov 13, 2012 | 19:08 GMT

Al Shabaab's Activity in Somalia

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Al Shabaab's Activity in Somalia

African Union Mission in Somalia forces ejected Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab from its base in Kismayo in late September. With the loss of Kismayo, al Shabaab was deprived of its primary seaport and airport. This has left the group almost completely reliant on inland arms smuggling routes that run through Puntland north to Yemen, where al Shabaab acquires weapons through its ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Though al Shabaab likely has some stockpile of weapons it can rely on, it needs to protect this remaining supply route in order to continue its guerrilla campaign against the better-armed and better-organized forces allied with the Somali government, particularly in the south and around Mogadishu. Despite several offensives, Puntland forces have failed to dislodge the militants from the Golis Mountains, where the route originates. The rough terrain has made ousting al Shabaab forces from the region extremely challenging. Al Shabaab's leaders initially selected the area as an ideal refuge from the foreign forces that have come to Somalia to fight them, but it has taken on an added importance since the loss of Kismayo.

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