Shabab Concede Control of Capital to Somalia Government

The Shabab Islamist rebels abruptly pulled out of the bullet-ridden capital of Somalia on Saturday, leaving the entire city in the hands of the government for the first time in years and raising hopes that aid organizations could now deliver assistance to more famine victims unfettered.

Witnesses described truckloads of heavily armed Shabab fighters driving away under the cover of darkness and the beleaguered residents of the capital, Mogadishu, pouring into the streets to cheer and jeer their departure.

“We have been dreaming of this day for the last three years,” said Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Somalia’s new, Harvard-educated prime minister.

The Shabab’s notoriously brutal brand of Islamism had tormented Mogadishu residents for years, but more recently the rebels have also blocked many international relief groups from bringing food to victims of the famine that swept southern Somalia this summer.

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