Ethiopian troops supporting Somalia's fragile government have now completely withdrawn from that country's capital, Mogadishu.
deputy governor of Somalia's Banadir Region, which includes Mogadishu,
says Ethiopian forces abandoned the last of their bases overnight.
Residents say they saw the last convoy of Ethiopian troops and vehicles
leaving the city early Thursday.
The pullout is part of a
general Ethiopian withdrawal from Somalia that began Monday. Ethiopian
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Thursday that his troops will remain
stationed on the Somali border.
Some Somalis hope the withdrawal
will lead to a more unified and effective government, while others fear
the power vacuum will trigger increased fighting among insurgent groups
that battled the Ethiopians.
At least seven people were killed
in the Lower Shabelle region Thursday in fighting between a local militia
and the most prominent insurgent group, al-Shabab.
Fighting in Mogadishu on Wednesday killed at least 21 people.
Al-Shabab has said it will now focus its attacks on African Union peacekeepers based in Mogadishu.
sent thousands of troops into Somalia in late 2006 to help the Somali
government oust an Islamist movement that had seized power in Mogadishu
and other cities.
The offensive succeeded but sparked a two-year
Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands and displaced more than a
Ethiopia has said it will fully withdraw its
troops by the end of this week, following an October peace deal between
the Somali government and an alliance of moderate Islamist groups.
government remains weak, controlling only the capital and Baidoa, the
seat of the country's parliament. Somalia has not had an effective
central government in 18 years.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.