Ethiopian troops quit Somali city

2013-07-22 20:11
Picture: <a href=\\>Shuttertstock</a>

Picture: Shuttertstock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - Ethiopia has begun pulling troops out of a former rebel stronghold in Somalia, but it has no plans for a complete withdrawal from the fight against al Qaeda-linked insurgents, its foreign minister said on Monday.

Somalia has enjoyed relative calm after military offensives by African Union (Amisom) peacekeepers and Ethiopian troops, who have pushed al-Qaeda allied al-Shabaab from urban strongholds in central and southern Somalia.

But suicide attacks have reinforced concerns the militants remain a potent force and Ethiopia's sudden withdrawal in March from Hudur - the capital of Bakool province near the Ethiopian border - enabled al Shabaab to retake the town.

Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said Ethiopia had begun pulling out of Baidoa - once considered the most important rebel city after the port of Kismayu - because it was now relatively stabile and Somali forces were able to take over.

"The withdrawal from Baidoa should have been done almost a year ago but Amisom was not ready and that could not be done," he told Reuters in an interview. Ethiopia seized the city, about 250km northwest of Mogadishu, last year.

"I am now glad that there is a well organised and planned withdrawal and the space is already being occupied by Somali forces," Adhanom said.

After a 2006-2009 stint, Ethiopia once again sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight al-Shabaab, alongside African Union forces from Uganda and Burundi and Kenyan troops that later incorporated the Amisom mission, after entering Somalia independently to pursue al-Shabaab.

Addis Ababa pledged at the time that its forces would stay in the war-ravaged country until Somalia's government could ratify a new constitution and its ragtag military was able to fend off the militant Islamist threat on its own.

Tedros said Ethiopia's aim now was to deploy in areas where the rebels appeared to have a far stronger presence. He expressed confidence that Somali troops would be able to stand their ground in places Ethiopia left.

Ethiopian troops may deploy back to areas they have left if Amisom and Mogadishu asked for their return, he said.

8 000 troops

"That is what is needed when al-Shabaab is on the run - the best use of our forces instead of stationing them in just certain places," he said.

"I don't think there is a need to put a deadline for complete withdrawal because they (troops) will be engaged in one end every now and then, based on the need."

Diplomats say Ethiopia has a contingent of around 8 000 troops in the country.

The overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 plunged Somalia into two decades of violence, first at the hands of clan warlords and then Islamist militants, while two semi-autonomous regions - Puntland and Somaliland - have emerged in northern Somalia.

UN sanctions experts said this month that Eritrea was undermining stability by paying political agents and a warlord linked to Islamist militants to influence the Mogadishu government.

Tedros accused Eritrea - long at odds with Ethiopia over an unresolved border dispute - of supporting the rebels.

"We have evidence that Eritrea is continuing to support al-Shabaab," he said. "I think the international community should really take this seriously and take serious action especially in terms of strengthening the sanctions that have already been imposed by the UN."

Eritrea denies playing any negative role in Somalia, saying it has no links to al Shabaab. It says UN sanctions imposed on it in 2009 for supporting the insurgents were based on lies and has called for the sanctions to be lifted.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  somalia  |  ethiopia  |  east africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:


Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.