- Ethiopian troops have fully vacated the Horn of African state today, amid fears by locals of intensified fighting between government forces and Islamic hardliners, a local government official said.
"I confirm that there are no Ethiopian soldiers in the capital. They emptied all their bases and moved overnight onto the southern road to Baidoa," Abdifatah Ibrahim Shaaweye, Deputy Governor of Banadir region announced.
On Wednesday, Islamists militants shelled at the departing Ethiopians, killing 21 and wounding more than 45 people. Local reports said a heavy exchange of mortar and gunfire ensued as Al-Shabab, an armed rebel group, advanced to occupy posts vacated by Ethiopian troops.
Ethiopia, which was fed up by rifts in the government and the cost of the operation to stabilise Somalia announced its withdrawal of 3,000 troops in November last year. However, its decision was criticised by international groups saying the power vacuum would result to more blood shed.
Some Somalis are devastated and distrustful about a return to peace in a nation, saying withdrawal poses yet another power struggle between government and Islamists rebel forces that are still bitter after government removed their Sharia court out of the capital two years ago.
However, there are opposing views that withdrawal brings a new dawn to Somalia, saying peace process was hampered by Ethiopia as other Islamist hardliners had on various occasions demanded Ethiopia's withdrawal before they could cease attack on government and sign any peace accords.
According to local reports a 3, 400 ill equipped and under funded African Union forces comprised of Uganda and Burundi have moved into Somalia to fill a void left by Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, which has been supporting its neighbouring Somalia's weak government for two years to oust Islamic rebels in Mogadishu has witnessed fierce fighting between government forces and rebels.
At least 16,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting, and a million more have been forced from their homes. Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, since when various militias have been battling for control.
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afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.