Al-Shabaab militants retake El-Bur after Ethiopian troops pull out

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Ethiopian soldiers displaying weapons left behind by Shabaab militants at their former base in Baido on March 2, 2012. FILE PHOTO | AFP AFP

Beled Weyne (HOL) – Al Shabaab fighters have taken over the town of El-Bur in Central Somalia after Ethiopian-AMISOM troops pulled out, according to local residents.

Residents say that Al-Shabaab militants took over the town “without firing a single bullet”. It is the first time they have been in full control of the town since 2013 when they were forced out by Ethiopian troops which are part of the AMISOM contingent.

The military base was buzzing with activity last night and this morning, locals suspected that the troops were preparing to abandon the town.

One local witness has told HOL that Al Shabaab fighters are now gathering locals. He added that locals fear reprisal attacks by Al-Shabaab for cooperating with AMISOM fighters who were based there.

The El-Bur pull-out is the latest incident in which Ethiopian troops have abandoned several bases over the past year. Experts have linked previous withdrawals to the anti-government protests that have rocked Ethiopia and led to a declaration of a state of emergency, but Ethiopian officials have consistently dismissed the claims.

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