Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Last Ethiopian troops leave Somali capital

 Islamist fighters in Mogadishu stadium chant Allahu Akbar (God is great), after the Ethiopian troops vacated the soccer stadium, in Mogadishu, Somali...
 Somalis gather around a tank left by Ethiopian troops formerly based in the former Somali defence ministry in Mogadishu Thursday, Jan.15, 2009 . The ...

SOMALIA

Islamist fighters in Mogadishu stadium chant Allahu Akbar (God is great), after the Ethiopian troops vacated the soccer stadium, in Mogadishu, Somali...

SOMALIA

Somalis gather around a tank left by Ethiopian troops formerly based in the former Somali defence ministry in Mogadishu Thursday, Jan.15, 2009 . The ...

The last Ethiopian troops backing Somalia's fragile government left the Somali capital Thursday, the prime minister said, as Islamist forces took control of bases that the Ethiopians had vacated.
The pullout came a day after an extremist Islamic group said it now will focus its attacks on the thousands of African Union peacekeepers based in Mogadishu, underscoring fears the country could collapse into further chaos.
Ethiopia's prime minister said he could not predict what will happen when his troops leave Somalia completely, but he expected the extremist Islamic group, al-Shabab, and others to try and seize power.
"It would be strange if the Shabab and others did not try to capitalize on the fact that a significant proportion of the peacekeeping operation in Somalia was leaving and to try to fill in whatever vacuum they feel there is," Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told journalists in Addis Ababa.
"But at the moment, what will happen next is an open question," Zenawi said.
Ethiopia handed over security duties Tuesday following a two-year deployment. Somalia's weak U.N.-backed government had called in the Ethiopian troops in December 2006 to oust an umbrella Islamic group _ which included the al-Shabab extremists _ that had controlled southern Somalia and the capital for six months.
The Ethiopian army, one of Africa's largest, was viewed by many Somalis as abusive and heavy-handed. But few expect the Somali government now can ensure security. It controls only pockets of the capital, Mogadishu, and Baidoa, where parliament sits _ and has tried to rule without a president for weeks.
Thousands of civilians have been killed in fighting in the past year, particularly in the capital, and hundreds of thousands have fled the violence.
Since Tuesday's handover, Islamic insurgents have continued attacking government installations such as presidential palace. At least 24 civilians were killed and more than 50 wounded in violence Wednesday, medical staff reported.
"The Ethiopian troops have withdrawn from the capital," said Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, speaking to journalists at the airport before leaving the country. "The city is now safe. I urge government troops and other groups to work together toward keeping peace in the city."
Hussein did not tell journalists his destination but said he will be a candidate when the Somali parliament convenes to elect a new president. The African Union has said that election is scheduled for next week in Djibouti.
Abdullahi Yusuf resigned from the presidency last month, saying he had lost control of the country to Islamic insurgents. Since then parliament's speaker has been acting president until a new one is elected before the end of January.
The departure of the Ethiopians has raised fears of a power vacuum at a time when Somalia is also facing rampant piracy off its coast. The country has not had a functioning government since 1991, when rival warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
The Ethiopians announced late last year they would end their unpopular presence as demanded under an October power-sharing deal signed between the Somali government and a relatively moderate faction of the Islamists. But even with their help, few expect the Somali force can establish order.
Al-Shabab, which the U.S. State Department considers a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaida, says it wants to establish an Islamic state in Somalia.
Still, some Mogadishu residents continue to welcome the Ethiopian withdrawal.
Sahro Sheik Yusuf, a mother of four who fled her house in southern Mogadishu two years ago because the Ethiopians had a base nearby, said Thursday was a special day for her.
"I feel as if I'm liberated today. I'm ecstatic," said Yusuf, adding she had lived in a camp outside Mogadishu without running water and waste all around her. "I'm happy to return to my home. I'm happy to be here even if I don't get something to eat."
___
Associated Press writers Anita Powell in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Mohamed Olad Hassan and Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-17 10:05 GMT+08:00