Islamist fighters take control of Somali town, say witnesses

Islamist militia on Friday took control of a town in south-central Somalia after Ethiopian soldiers withdrew overnight, witnesses said.

The Islamists, who briefly controlled much of south and central Somalia before they were ousted by Ethiopia-backed Somali government troops early this year, have since been waging near daily attacks against the joint forces.

“The Ethiopian forces withdrew from the town overnight and now I can see the former Islamic courts fighters,” said Mohamed Haji Elmi, a local elder.

The Islamists took over Guriel town, about 300km north of the capital Mogadishu, which they had previously controlled.

Somalia has been plagued by 16 years of violence that has defied numerous bids to restore stability.—AFP

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