Ethiopian troops fighting militant Islamist group al-Shabab pulled out from a key military base in central Somalia’s Hiran region, residents say.
This, according to the residents and officials, came after the base came under artillery fire, and Al-Shabab fighters took whole control of el-Ali village following the withdrawal, the residents added.
Ethiopian forces had destroyed the base before abandoning the area, a radio station run by al-Shabab said.
Ethiopian has not commented on the withdrawal. In recent weeks it had also withdrawn its forces from the nearby town of Moqokori, AFP news agency reports.
Security official Abdirisak Moalim Ahmed said Ethiopian soldiers present in El-Ali, Hiran region, as part of an African Union mission withdrew on Tuesday morning after artillery fire targeted their base overnight.
A resident said some townsfolk as well as Somali security forces had also abandoned the town.
“Most of the traders have fled the town after the Ethiopian troops pulled out this morning, we can see many people including the Somali security forces who have reached Beledweyne,” said Osman Adan.
El-Ali is a town with about 60,000 people and is the second largest base in Somalia’s Hiran region and it was vacated by Ethiopian troops within the last few weeks.