Thursday, March 22, 2012

Somali govt. forces seize strategic towns in south Somalia
Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers parade as part of a passing-out ceremony in the capital Mogadishu on March 17, 2012.
Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:58PM GMT
The Somali government forces backed by Ethiopian troops have taken full control of two strategic towns in southern Somalia after al-Shabab fighters vacated the towns following heavy battles, Press TV reports.

Heavily armed Ethiopian troops along with Somali soldiers chased away hundreds of al-Shabab fighters from Hudur, the capital of the southern Bakool region and located 420 kilometers (260) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, and seized the town on Thursday.

Mohamed Moalim, the Somali government’s district commissioner, told Press TV that al-Shabab fighters abandoned the town after bloody clashes on Wednesday as columns of Ethiopian and Somali forces advanced.

He added that eleven commanders and 45 members of al-Shabab militant group were killed during the clashes. Five al-Shabab armored trucks were also destroyed.

Osman Qaliinle, a local resident, said he saw vehicles with fighters and officials of al-Shabab leaving the town, and heading toward Wajid town, located approximately 302 kilometers (188 mi) northwest of Mogadishu.

Meanwhile, al-Shabab fighters fled Yeed town in the Bakool region on Thursday, after they were defeated in an exchange of fire with Ethiopian and Somali forces.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The weak Western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu has been battling al-Shabab fighters for the past five years and is propped up by a 12,000-strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi, and Djibouti.


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