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A handout picture taken and released by the African Union-United... News PhotoAfrican Union,Al-Qaida,Al-Shabaab - Militant Group,Army,Conflict,Day,Extremism,Following,Gesturing,Horn of Africa,Meeting,Releasing,Senior Adult,Somalia,Town,Uganda,VerticalPhotographer Collection: AFP 2013 AFPA handout picture taken and released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support team on February 28, 2013 shows an elder from the town of Buur-Hakba gesturing during a meeting with Brigadier General Michael Ondoga (unseen), Contingent Commander for Ugandan troops serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and commanders of the Somali National Army (SNA) following the town's capture the day before from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated extremist group Al Shabaab by the Somali National Army (SNA), supported by AMISOM forces. The strategically important town linking the capital Mogadishu and the hinterlands of central Somalia was liberated without a shot being fired, marking a significant loss for the group. Under the Shabaab's repressive and violent rule, social and leisure past-times such as football were banned in every form including watching and playing. The town, located 64kms east of Baidoa, Somalia's second city, was a stronghold of the Shabaab where they extorted high levies of illegal taxation on the local civilian populations and used it as a base from where they planned and launched attacks against government forces and installations, AMISOM and the Somali population. Buur-Hakba is the latest in a string of notable territorial losses for the extremist group to SNA and AMISOM forces over the last 18 months, which has seen their area of influence and control over towns and areas across Somalia steadily and rapidly decrease. AFP PHOTO / AU-UN IST PHOTO / STUART PRICE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / AU-UN IST PHOTO / STUART PRICE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)