Islamic fighters abandoned the last major town they held early Monday and were seen heading south toward the Kenyan border while government forces approached slowly because of land mines, residents and the government spokesman said.
Hundreds of gunmen, who had apparently deserted the Islamic movement, began looting the warehouses where the Council of Islamic Courts had stored supplies, including weapons and ammunition. Gangs skirmished in the streets and the city descended into chaos, businessman Sheik Musa Salad said.
"Everything is out of control, everyone has a gun and gangs are looting everything now that the Islamists have left," he added.
The Islamic forces began to disintegrate after a night of artillery attacks at the front line and following a mutiny within their ranks, witnesses said. Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said he had information that Islamic forces were moving south toward the Kenyan border.
"The Islamists have fled Kismayo and our troops are on the way," Dinari said.