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Last Updated: Jan 6th, 2007 - 10:27:46

Somalia: Ethiopian forces capture town from Islamists

BELETWEIN, Somalia Dec 25 (Garowe Online) - Ethiopian troops and allied Somali militias rolled into Beletwein town in central Somalia on Monday without meeting armed resistance from the Islamic Courts forces in the region, according to residents.


Some of the troops went further south towards Buulo Burde town where the Islamist militia are believed to have retreated to. Residents reported hearing the sounds of artillery shells and rocketfire in the outskirts of Buulo Burde town.


One resident reported that officers loyal to ex-Hiran governor Yusuf Dabaged were in government offices in Beletwein. Dabaged was appointed by Somali Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi but expelled militarily by the Islamists in August.


Dabaged spoke to the public briefly after the takeover. He said Beletwein had been "liberated" and people were allowed to chew khat, a leafy stimulant banned under the Islamist administration.


Ethiopia admitted on Saturday for the first time that its military was fighting inside Somalia against the Islamists. Ethiopian warplanes hit targets in Hiran region yesterday, including a recruitment center in Beletwein.


Garowe Online News


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