Al-Shabaab fighters withdrew from the southern port city of Kismayo in Somalia, after a series of co-ordinated assualts by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) backed by the United Nations backed African Union peacekeeping mission and troops from the transitional Somali government.
The liberation of Kismayo has weakened the Islamist fighters who lost control of the Somali capital of Mogadishu one year ago.
Somalia's al Shabaab rebels have withdrew from the southern port city of Kismayu in Somalia overnight following a joint assault from the African Union and Kenyan and Somalia government forces. However they have vowed to return. Spokesman Shiekh Ali Mohamud Rage said:
"We moved out our fighters ... from Kismayu at midnight. The enemies have not yet entered the town. Let them enter Kismayu which will soon turn into a battlefield"
Locals confirmed the militants had pulled out under the cover of darkness but said the Kenyan troops, fighting under an African Union peacekeeping force's banner, and Somali soldiers were still camped on the city's outskirts.There were reports of looting in some areas of the city.
Fighting and shelling was taking place on the beaches of al-Shabab stronghold Kismayo, in southern Somalia, after an assault by Kenyan and Somali troops.
The loss of the port would deal a huge blow to al-Shabab. It is a lucrative source of revenue and a centre for operations over areas the militia has controlled in south-central Somalia since 2007.
The group, which formally merged with al-Qaeda in February, has been steadily losing its footholds under sustained pressure from African peacekeeping forces (AMISOM) and Somali government troops for the past year.
While Kismayo's recapture would go a long way towards stabilising Somalia, which has lacked effective central government for the past 20 years, it is thought that it could also embolden the militants to resort to more guerrilla-style attacks.