22 December 2006

Somalia: Ethiopian Troops Leave Ballanballe

Mogadishu — The Ethiopian forces in Ballanballe in Galgadud province, central Somalia, have reportedly retreated after residential population asked the Ethiopians to leave.

Sources in the area say the Ethiopian troops that were in Ballanballe for the past three months have left Friday. Islamic Courts in Abudwaq within Galgadud province threatened they would attack the Ethiopians in Ballanballe if they did not leave.

Residents in Ballanballe said the Ethiopian troops asked the elders and foresighted people to recruit soldiers that would fight the Islamic Courts fighters that are positioned some 80 km away from the Ethiopian stronghold in central Somalia.

The news comes as the Ethiopian government denies its troops in Somalia were involved in the fight between the government forces and Islamists.

Islamic Courts seized the capital early June and expanded their military powers into central and southern provinces of the country, besieging the only outpost, Baidoa, controlled by the government.

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