Shabaab has claimed a number of attacks in recent days across southern Somalia, including briefly recapturing the strategic town of Balad just north of Mogadishu.
Over the past two weeks, African Union forces withdrew from the southern Somali towns of Marka, El Ade, and Badhadhe. Al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia quickly reoccupied the towns.
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In photos: Tracking al Shabaab in Somalia