Somalia: Ethiopia to help Somali troops reclaim town from Al-Shabaab
Ethiopian troops are being deployed to aid Somali’s army in reclaiming a town from Islamist militant groups Al-Shabaab.
According to reports, the Ethiopian contingent has arrived in the city of Baidoa and will assist local forces with retaking the town of Leego. Ethiopia has dedicated 40 troops to the operation but they’ve already endured difficulties making their way to Baidoa due to Al-Shabaab ambushes along the road from Waajid.
Ethiopia deploys troops
Leego is a strategic town that connects the Somali capital Mogadishu with Baidoa. Al-Shabaab seized the town in June 2015 after African Union (AU) troops fled the area. It’s still not clear why AU forces left the town but their departure effectively handed control over to Al-Shabaab.
Retaking Leegos is a priority for the Somali government, which needs to restore a perimeter around the capital, where Al-Shabaab attacks are frequent. Likewise, reopening the road between Baidoa and Mogadishu is an important objective.
Ethiopia is a key contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) but the mission has struggled to maintain its impact in recent years. Funding is the main problem for AU forces but Ethiopia was also forced to withdraw some troops in 2015 as anti-government protests in the country turned violent.
Featured image: By AMISOM Public Information – Flickr, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41583148