Somali commandos of the Danab “Lightning” Brigade, backed by Ugandan African Union (AU) forces, have taken the strategic town of Kuntuwaarey in the Lower Shabelle region from the al-Shabaab terrorist group, freeing at least 33 children in the process, officials said.

The town of Kuntuwaarey, in the southwest of Somalia, located about 200 kilometers from the capital, Mogadishu, has been a strategic stronghold for the terror group for many years.

The “Somali National Army, backed by units from the African Union peacekeepers, has taken control of this strategic town from the militants,” Isaq Ali Subag, the Minister of Internal Security for the region, said. He added that al-Shabab had been using the town as a base to launch attacks on cities and towns in the region.

The Somali government released photos of the Somali commandos and African Union troops as they entered the area.