Thursday, March 22, 2012
Ethiopian soldiers and pro-government Somali
forces seized a key town in southwest Somalia Thursday, inflicting a
new loss on al-Qaeda allied Shebab insurgents, officials and witnesses
troops took control of the town of Hudur, capital of the
Shebab-controlled Bakool region, about 90 kilometres from the Ethiopian
“We have chased
away the terrorists from Hudur and seized several guns they left
behind,” Mohamed Ibrahim, a local government official.
was little resistance,” he said, adding that several people accused of
being Shebab supporters in Hudur had been arrested.
said that extremist Shebab fighters abandoned the town after heavy
battles on Wednesday as the Ethiopian column advanced.
fighters tried to ambush our forces but they were defeated late on
Wednesday, and they have fled the area,” said Somalia MP Mohamed
fighters ambushed the enemy convoy... many of their soldiers were
killed and armoured trucks destroyed,” a Shebab commander, who asked
not to be named, said before the town was captured.
fighters fled Hudur at dawn on Thursday, leaving the town empty of
gunmen “because of the approaching forces from Ethiopia,” said Mohamud
Idow, a resident.
loss of Hudur dealt another blow to the Shebab, who face increasing
pressure from pro-government forces and regional armies.
month the extremists lost control of their strategic base of Baidoa to
Ethiopian troops, the second major loss in six months after abandoning
fixed bases in the capital Mogadishu.
experts warn the Shebab are far from defeated and remain a major
threat, especially now they have in many areas switched to guerrilla
On Tuesday, the
rebels were ousted from the central town of Dhusamareb hours after they
captured it from a pro-government militia, in fierce battles both sides
claimed had killed a number of rival fighters.
insurgents this week also launched mortar bomb salvos at the
presidential palace in Mogadishu, missing the fortified compound but
hitting a nearby camp for displaced people, killing six.
Mugisha, commander of the 10 000-strong African Union force that
defends the weak Western-backed government, called on Somalis to
provide information about future attacks.
they (the Shebab) were seeking to improve the situation of the people,
they wouldn't be attacking unarmed civilians,” Mugisha said in a
The Shebab and
other armed groups control large areas in the south of the lawless Horn
of Africa nation, that has suffered the depredations of a two-decade
civil war and the devastation of a severe humanitarian crisis.