Garowe Online (Garowe)

7 February 2013

Somalia: Ethiopian Troops Battle Al Shabaab Fighters in South Central Somalia

Baidoa, Somalia — A contingent of Ethiopian troops were ambushed by Al Shabaab fighters as they made their way from El Barde in Bakool region in south central Somalia on Thursday, Garowe Online reports.

According to local media in Bakool, the Ethiopian troops were headed back from surveying the town of El Barde - which is located in Bay and Bakool region - when they were ambushed near Yed, a village that lies in the middle of El Barde and Hudur, where Ethiopian troops are stationed.

According to local sources, there were several casualties on both sides and fighting is still ongoing in Bakool region.

The Bay and Bakool regions in south central Somalia were one of the first regions that Al Shabaab suffered defeats. Baidoa the capital of Bay region was captured from Al Shabaab insurgents in February of last year.

On Wednesday, an improvised explosive device (IED) hit a vehicle carrying Ethiopian troops as they were passing an intersection in Baidoa. Hiiraan Online a Somali web based media outlet, stated that at least 2 Ethiopian soldiers were killed in the blast.

Despite Baidoa being a rather serene city since its capture by Ethiopian and Somali militia last year, the rural parts of Bay region are quite different. Much of the rural areas in Bay and Bakool region are dominated by Al Shabaab fighters.

According to Hiiraan Online, the town of Hudur where some Ethiopian troops are stationed, is surrounded by Al Shabaab fighters and is very isolated, causing problems for citizens of Hudur.

Sources who spoke to GO said that the situation in Hudur is very dire; food supplies brought to the town are sold at exorbitant prices which residents can't afford.

The major towns and cities in south central and southern Somalia have been rid of Al Shabaab fighters. However the vast majority of Somalis, who are pastoralists, have to cope with overpowered Al Shabaab fighters who have fled to the rural parts of Somalia.

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