Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ethiopia troops pull out of Somalia towns

NAIROBI: Hundreds of Ethiopian troops pulled out of a town in central Somalia on Tuesday, at least the second location vacated by their forces in recent weeks, a Somali security official said.

Security official Abdirisak Moalim Ahmed said Ethiopian soldiers present in El Ali, Hiran region, as part of an African Union (AU) mission withdrew on Tuesday morning after artillery fire targeted their base overnight.

Nearby Shabaab militants then reoccupied the town, which lies about 70 kilometres from the provincial capital Beledweyne. “The Ethiopian troops pulled out of El Ali town early this morning,” said Ahmed, adding the reason for the withdrawal was unclear.

“They have headed for Beledweyne and the town is already taken by Shabaab militants,” he said.

The troop movement comes just days after Ethiopia’s embattled government declared a state of emergency in a bid to bring an unprecedented wave of protests under control.

El Ali is at least the second town Ethiopian troops have vacated in recent weeks, after abandoning nearby Moqokori.

No explanation has been given by the Ethiopian military while the spokesman for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) did not respond to requests for comment.

Agence France-Presse