Baidoa — Ethiopian troops stationed in Bay region of southern Somalia have began to vacate some districts in the region on Wednesday, Garowe Online reports.
The Ethiopian troops retreated from military bases in Baidoa, such as Hasey factory station and 60th Somali Army base. Moreover, other Bay regional districts of Bardale and Qansahdheere have reported Ethiopian army’s pullout.
Eye witnesses in Baidoa told Garowe Online that AMISOM peacekeeping forces filled the military bases vacated by Ethiopian troops. “The Ethiopian forces located here [Baidoa] began to leave several military bases like Hasey factory which has been their largest station for over a year and the forces left with their armored vehicles,” witnesses said.
Witnesses reported that Somali government forces took over bases vacated by Ethiopian troops in Bardale and Qansahdheere districts of Bay region.
The officials of Somali Federal Government and Ethiopian government are yet to comment on the withdrawal and the recent move would be part of Ethiopian government’s plan to pull its troops out of Somalia, which commenced after a two-day trip to Baidoa by Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, who returned to Mogadishu on Tuesday.
Ethiopian government has reiterated several times before that it will withdraw its troops from Somalia’s Bay region which it liberated from Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab militants in February 2012. In March 2013, Ethiopian troops vacated Bakool regional capital of Huddur which was quickly seized by Al Shabaab militants, who were unable to retake Baidoa due to the presence of AMISOM forces.
Ethiopian troops intervened in southern Somalia in Dec. 2006 and withdrew by Jan. 2009, but returned to Gedo, Bay, Bakool, Hiran and Galgadud border regions in early 2012 in support of Somali government’s stabilization operations.