The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on Friday said the successful capture of the strategic town of Bariire from al-Shabab earlier this week is crucial for the stability of the country.

Francisco Madeira, the special representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, said the town was serving as a key transit point for al-Shabab extremists who frequently crossed over from Bay and Middle Jubba into Lower Shabelle to terrorize communities.

“The liberation of Bariire from the grip of the terrorists is another major milestone for the Somali National Army and AMISOM in our joint efforts to free the people of Somalia from the control of al-Shabab and restore lasting peace, stability and security in the country,” said Madeira in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

The AU troops in a joint military operation with the Somali National Army launched an offensive and liberated Bariire from al-Shabab on Monday.

The agricultural-rich Bariire, which lies about 60 km west of Somali capital, Mogadishu, is one of the strategic areas located in Lower Shabelle region along River Shabelle.

The liberation of Bariire comes exactly a month after AMISOM troops, in another joint operation with the Somali National Army, captured the bridge town of Sabiid and Anole in Lower Shabelle region on April 1.

The military offensive to liberate Sabiid and Bariire is part of the implementation of the revised AMISOM Concept of Operations 2018-2021 and the Somalia Transition Plan.

“The capture and holding of the two towns (Sabiid and Bariire) are concrete steps in the process of the gradual handover of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali Security Forces in accordance with the Transition Plan,” Madeira said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

Madeira lauded the allied forces for the bravery and professionalism in liberating the two towns and their visible efforts to protect and safeguard civilians and their properties.