As Somalia prepares for polls later this year al-Shabab quietly takes over towns left by withdrawing Ethiopian troops.
Mogadishu, Somalia – Somalia-based rebel group al-Shabab has been on the offensive in recent months retaking strings of towns in south and central Somalia.
Since the start of this year the group which is linked to al-Qaeda has retaken at least 10 towns from Ethiopian and African Union troops. They retook four towns in the past month.
Analysts say that the change in fortune of al-Shabab is in part due to events outside Somalia. The anti-government protests in neighbouring Ethiopia is the reason, they argue.
Ethiopia has thousands of troops in the Horn of Africa country as part of an agreement with the Mogadishu government to fight the armed group.
But Addis Ababa denies the claim.
Al Jazeera’s Hamza Mohamed visited an al-Shabab training camp in central Somalia and obtained these exclusive photos.