22 April 2010

Somalia: Ethiopia Troops Expel Al Shabaab From Border Town

Heavily-armed Ethiopian troops accompanied by Somali troops have reportedly crossed the border into south central Somali town of El Barde in a bid to oust insurgent Al-Shabaab, Radio Garowe reports.

Al-Shabaab captured the town on Tuesday after bloody confrontation with Somali forces, leading to the death of at least 10 people.

"They came with 30 armored vehicles and we don't where Al-Shabaab fighters fled to because they are nowhere to be seen," searching for a well-known local man who also works with Al-Shabab," said a town resident who requested not to be named.

Somali officials confirmed the presence of Ethiopian troops in the town, saying they came to deter Al-Shabaab military advance in border area.

"The troops came to the town to drive Al-Shabaab elements out of the area which is near the border between Somalia and Ethiopian," said an official.

Witnesses said the Ethiopians troops are now positioned in the outskirts of the town with Al-Shabaab fighters reportedly fleeing to neighboring Rabdhere town.

Ethiopian soldiers withdrew from southern Somalia in January 2009 after two years of military presence but residents, have been reporting several incursions in the past few months.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, an area near the central Somali town of Dhusamareb witnessed intense fighting between Al-Shabaab fighters and pro-government Ahlu Sunnah forces.

Residents said exchange of artillery fire rocked the area early morning. There were no reports of casualty.

The two groups are engaged in deadly warfare over the control of south and central Somalia.

Somalia has been marred by nearly two decades of civil strife that erupted after the collapse of the central government in 1991.

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