MOGADISHU - Somali militant group al Shabaab has pulled its commanders out of the port city of Kismayu, leaving foot soldiers to defend its last bastion against advancing African troops, residents and Kenya's military said on Tuesday.

The al-Qaida-linked rebels have lost strongholds across southern and central Somalia in the past year in the face of advances by African Union forces, including Kenyan troops.

The Horn of Africa nation, a battleground in the US-led war on militant Islam, is seen as a threat to regional stability.

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