Fighters loyal to Somali insurgent group al Shabaab entered and gained control of two southern towns without facing resistance from government sources, Radio Garowe reported.
Al Shabaab fighters armed with assault rifles and rocket launchers entered the town of Dinsor, near Baidoa, on Thursday afternoon.
Locals said the fighters did not meet any armed resistance from the government, because district officials and allied security forces fled the town weeks earlier.
The rebels, all of whom were walking on foot, held discussions with local clan elders in Dinsor.
The district, located in Bay region where Somalia’s parliament sits, has been captured and recaptured several times by al Shabaab fighters this year.
In Bal’ad, a town 30km north of the capital Mogadishu, rebel fighters gained control without a fight, residents told Radio Garowe.
The al Shabaab fighters entered Bal’ad town yesterday afternoon, with witnesses saying the rebels brought with them several men they had apprehended from the outskirts of town.
Mohamed Muse Garabey, the al Shabaab commander in Bal’ad, told local clan elders during a Friday morning meeting that the rebels will establish a district government and a security force to fight against illegal militias who set up roadblocks.
Somalia’s government has not publicly commented on the takeover of Dinsor and Bal’ad towns by rebel forces, although the government and its ally Ethiopia maintain thousands of combat troops in Mogadishu.