Al-Shabaab fighters took control of a second strategic town in Somalia after African Union peacekeeping troops withdrew, residents of Buq Aqable in the central Hiran region said.
The Islamist militants also took over the southern town of Kurtunwarey on Sept. 4 when soldiers left after an attack three days earlier on an African Union military base at Janaale near the capital, Mogadishu. The Ugandan army, which has more than 6,200 troops supporting Somalia’s government against the insurgents, said 12 of its men were killed in that strike.
“Masked al-Shabaab fighters, who were walking in large numbers, took control of the town,” Hassan Geele, a resident of Buq Aqable, told Bloomberg by phone on Sunday. Ethiopian soldiers left the town 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Beledweyne early Sunday morning, Guled Mohamed, a Somali army officer in Hiran, said by phone.
The African Union peacekeeping mission, known as Amisom, first deployed troops to Somalia in March 2007. It has forces from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.