Garowe Online (Garowe)

20 March 2013

Somalia: PM Promises to Take Back Town As Ethiopia Plans Military Withdrawal

Photo: Abakar Albadri/AU-UN IST
Al Shabaab militia (file photo): Government has promised to retake Hudur town back from armed militia.

Baidoa — Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon stated that the Federal Government would retake the town of Hudur in Bakool region that was recently captured by Al Shabaab forces after Ethiopian and Somali troops evacuated, Garowe Online reports.

After Ethiopian and Somali forces left the town of Hudur last Wednesday, hours later, masked men were seen entering the city and Al Shabaab confirmed that they had captured the town.

Prime Minister Shirdon in his stern press release stated that the federal government would take back Hudur - the administrative capital of Bakool region - and rid the city of Al Shabaab.

He also condemned the beheading of Sheikh Abdirahman Moalim Warsame, an 80 year old scholar and Imam of a mosque in Hudur. Following the capture of Hudur, Al Shabaab beheaded Sheikh Warsame who sources say was found guilty by the terror organization of working with Ethiopian forces.

Since their deployment to Somalia last year, Ethiopian forces defeated Al Shabaab in both Bay and Bakool regions. Al Shabaab has been deeply weakened by the allied forces' offensive. However since the withdrawal of Hudur the terror organization has deployed many of its forces to the town, in hopes of rebuilding their control in the region.

Ethiopia to withdraw from Bay and Bakool:

Former Speaker of Parliament and current member of parliament, Sheikh Adan Madoobe, announced that Ethiopia would be withdrawing from Somalia altogether. On Tuesday, MP Madoobe said that the deployment of the troops extended its period.

"The Ethiopian officials told us [SFG parliament] that the time period in Somalia was overdue. And now the Ethiopian military officials are waiting on full orders to leave their positions in Somalia," said MP Madoobe.

He went on to say that the Ethiopian officials were planning on turning over the security of the regions to Somali forces but that forces capable of maintaining the security have not yet been formulated.

Although the number of Ethiopian forces deployed in Somalia was not officially released, analysts determine the number to be several thousand combat troops who have overpowered Al Shabaab who previously dominated southern Somalia. Ethiopian forces were the first African forces to have battled Al Shabaab factions from 2006 to 2009.

Sources close to GO say that the talks of a withdrawal were brought up after the SFG reshuffled the Bay regional administration that was backed by Ethiopia.

Speaker Jawari visited Ethiopia to mend the tense ties between the two countries but sources say that talks broke down. The sources tell GO that more talks are scheduled with the Ethiopian government.

The withdrawal preparation comes at a time when President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud stated that the war against Al Shabaab has been won for the most part.

GAROWE ONLINE

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