News / Africa

Al-Shabab Retakes Somali Town After Ethiopian Pullout

VOA News
Militant group al-Shabab has retaken a town in central Somalia after Ethiopian troops unexpectedly pulled out.

Witnesses say al-Shabab occupied the town of Huddur, the capital of Somalia's Bakool region, immediately after the Ethiopian withdrawal on Sunday morning.

The commander of Somali troops in the region, Colonel Hassan Isaaq Omar, told VOA's Somali Service that Ethiopian troops remain in other parts of the area.

"It is true they have pulled out from Bakool," he said, "but on the other hand, Ethiopian troops are in many other areas in Bay, Bakool and Hiran regions and they are still in these zones. Having said that, it’s true they withdrew from Huddur and pulled back to a town about 90 kilometers away called Elbardeh."

Neither Somali nor Ethiopian officials have offered a reason for the withdrawal from Huddur. Omar said it is his understanding that Ethiopia is not planning a full-scale withdrawal from Somalia.

Ethiopian troops helped the Somali government and African Union forces drive al-Shabab out of its strongholds in central and southern Somalia last year.

The militants, known for imposing a harsh form of Islam on the areas they control, still rule parts of the Somali countryside and carry out periodic attacks.

Omar said following the withdrawal, al-Shabab killed the imam of a mosque in Huddur on Monday night.

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