Street FIGHT:Conflict
Al-Shabaab Withdraws From Hudur
Capital of Bakool Region Vacated as Ethiopian Troops Advance
By AWEYS CADDE 02/23/2012
Al-Shabaab fighters march in Baidoa
Al-Shabaab fighters march in Baidoa
Somalia’s al-Shabaab insurgent group have deserted six other districts and villages in Bay and Bakool regions over the last 24 hours, after Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces backed by Ethiopian troops seized the strategic southern town of Baidoa on Wednesday afternoon.

According to local residents and TFG officials, the militants vacated from Hudur—the capital of Bakool region—Tiyeglow and Wajid districts in Bakool, as well as Daynunay, El-Ali and Molimad villages in Bay region.

The senior TFG officials who led the troops that captured Baidoa on Wednesday stated that their plan is to capture the entire region, although they did not indicate a timeline for the operation.

“Our aim is to liberate all Bay and Bakool. I can’t tell you our next move because it’s a military issue,” Isak Horow, a TFG military officer, told Somalia Report.

However, reports on Thursday indicate that Ethiopian and TFG troops had moved out from Baidoa in two directions, towards Bur-Hakaba and Dinsor districts, 100 kilometers to the southwest, where al-Shabaab fighters retreated after withdrawing from Baidoa yesterday. The insurgents have also set up defensive positions in the Hakaba mountains, 30 kilometers north of Baidoa, where the allied forces are also pursuing them.

An official speaking for al-Shabaab stated that the Islamist group had retreated from the towns due to tactical considerations, and predicted that the district would very soon turn into a graveyard for the Ethiopians and allied forces.

“We vacated Baidoa and other districts in Bay region for tactical reasons. Remember we have mapped out a complex military plan, which will seriously damage the enemy and force them to flee, as they did four years ago,” al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Mascab told a pro-al-Shabaab radio station.

A spokesman for the Ethiopian government, Bereket Simon, stated that Ethiopian troops would "keep chasing" the retreating al-Shabaab fighters.

Explosions Target Ethiopian and TFG Bases

Meanwhile, three large explosions took place in Baidoa on Wednesday night, targeting Ethiopian and TFG bases. One of the explosions occurred in Hasey factory, a former al-Shabaab base converted by the Ethiopians for their own use.

The other two explosions targeted TFG bases in the Afar-Irdood and Manya-Fuulka neighborhoods.

“After the explosions, the Ethiopian troops killed two youths in the districts whom they accused of being al-Shabaab fighters who had remained in the district. Also the Ethiopian troops killed a man yesterday afternoon,” an eyewitness who requested anonymity told Somalia Report.