Fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab group said on Sunday they had retaken control of a town in central Somalia after hundreds of Ethiopian troops serving with the African Union’s AMISOM force withdrew.
It was the third time this month that the Islamist group moved into a town in the region after the departure of Ethiopian forces.
Al-Shabaab said on the smartphone app Telegram that their fighters had “stormed the town (of Halgan) soon after the enemy pulled out” on Sunday.
After leaving Halgan together with Somali army soldiers, situated at a key junction on the road to the capital Mogadishu, the Ethiopian troops headed towards the provincial capital, Beledweyne, according to several sources.
The Shabaab was forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, five years ago but continues to carry out regular attacks on military, government and civilian targets in its battle to overthrow the internationally-backed administration.
The fall of Halgan is likely to increase pressure and attacks on AMISOM forces in Buloburde, which is the second largest town in the central Hiran region.
No explanation has been given by the Ethiopian military or AMISOM.