SOMALIA -- Somalia's military forces retreated from a major town on its border with Kenya and Ethiopia when the terrorist group Al Shabaab retook the town on Friday, according to U.S. counterterrorism experts.
Government forces and Ahlu Sunna Waljama’ fighters had controlled the town of Belet-hawo this month, but have experienced a surge of enemy fighters.
Mohamoud Hussein, a local official, released a statement that "they left the town because they feared civilian casualties would increase if Al Shabaab attacked the town." Thousands of local civilians have fled their homes as the terrorists advanced.
Hussein said Somali soldiers are now in place to attempt a recapture of Belet-hawo and they hoped to clear the Al Shabaab from the Gedo region in southern Somalia.
Sheikh Bishar Adam Hassan, the commander of the Al Shabaab force, boasted that his "jihadists" had retaken the town.
According to a United Nations press statement, more than 50,000 Somalis have abandoned their homes and are facing a horrible exile in refugee camps located in neighboring Kenya.
There has been a fierce battle between Somali government forces and Al Shabaab with the terror group waging an all-out war against Somalia's government in an effort to impose a stricter form of Islamic law, or Shariah. The group's reign of terror includes public beheadings and stonings.
In one terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab terrorists killed and injured innocent civilians at a graduation ceremony for Somali medical students. The attack also resulted in the deaths of the Ministers of Health, Higher Education and Education of the Somali Transitional Federal Government.