On October 5, Somali troops, backed by the African Union Mission is Somalia (Amisom) have taken control of Baraawe, “a port town used by al Shabaab to bring in arms and fighters from abroad, after the al Qaeda-linked militants fled without a fight”. According to an Amisom press release, the city of Baraawe “is located 220 kilometers southwest of the capital Mogadishu” and “has been captured as part of Operation Indian Ocean”, which has the purpose of pushing the insurgents “out of their bases along mainland Africa’s longest coastline, and has so far recorded a string of victories against the crumbling terrorist network”. According to the same source, capturing the town is of significant importance, because, in addition to using “the port there to import arms as well as receive foreign fighters into their ranks”, al-Shabaab “also used Baraawe to export charcoal to the Middle East, a lucrative multi-million dollar business that served as their main source of funding”.
Al-Shabaab, who used the coastal town “as a base to launch attacks” on Mogadishu has “lost control of several towns in the past month, but still controls large swathes of territory in rural areas”. The loss of Baraawe is a strategic blow to al-Shabaab’s power. By taking the town, Somali troops and Amisom have denied the insurgents their main source of funding, a hub for receiving fighters and weapons, as well as an important base of operations for launching strikes on the capital. Al-Shabaab is losing more and more ground, especially since its leader, Ahmed Godane was killed in the aftermath of a U.S. strike that took place in early September.
 Feisal OMAR, “African Union and Somali forces claim Shabaab stronghold of Barawe”, Reuters, October 5, 2014, accessed at the Internet address http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/05/us-somalia-security-shabaab-idUSKCN0HU0C320141005
 “Somalia National Army and AMISOM liberate coastal city of Baraawe”, African Union Mission in Somalia, October 5, 2014, accessed at the Internet address http://amisom-au.org/2014/10/somalia-national-army-and-amisom-liberate-coastal-city-of-baraawe/
 “Somali troops 'capture key port town' from al-Shabab”, BBC, October 5, 2014, accessed at the Internet address http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29495801
For more information on the strike that claimed Godane’s life, access Policy Brief No.9: Somalia: Successful US military airstrike against the al-Shabaab extremist network, available at http://morgenthaucenter.org/policy-brief-no-9-a-stronger-us-involvement-in-africa/