MOGADISHU, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Al-Shabaab militants have taken control of Bariire town in southern Somalia following the withdrawal of Somali troops, witnesses told Xinhua.
The witnesses revealed that Somali National Army which operates a military base in the town left at around 3 a.m. local time paving way for entry of the militants who have now taken charge.
"Government forces left their base and deserted town at 3 a.m. and in a short span the Al-Shabaab fighters took over. Many people fled their homes but I decided to come back after three hours," the witness told Xinhua by phone.
Government officials in the town could not immediately be reached for comment.
The return of Al-Shabaab to Bariire happened barely two weeks after a deadly attack at a Somali National Army base late September where they reportedly killed 17 soldiers.
A joint offensive by Somali and African Union forces in August led to the capture of Bariire town which is around 45 kilometers south of the capital Mogadishu.