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Somalia: Al Shabaab ambushes Ethiopian troops, killing dozens

An attack on Ethiopian troops in the central Somali village of Yirkut by Islamist militant group Al Shabaab early Saturday has left dozens dead, reports say.

Al shabaab somalia 2012 02 22Enlarge
Al Shabaab still controls much of southern and central Somalia, but is under increasing pressure from Kenyan forces in the south and Ethiopian forces in the west. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

An attack on Ethiopian troops in Somalia by the radical Islamist group Al Shabaab has left dozens dead, reports say.

Militants ambushed Ethiopian soldiers, and some Somali troops, early Saturday in Yurkut village in Somalia’s central Geddo region after blocking roads around the village, according to the BBC.

Fighting continued for four hours. Al Shabaab claims to have killed 73 Ethiopians, while the Somali government says it in turn killed 48 of the militants during the ambush.

More from GlobalPost: Baidoa free after Ethiopia pushes out Al Shabaab

Yurkut lies the near strategic town of Luuq on the road linking the Somali-Ethiopian border with Baidoa, a former militant enclave in the south of Somalia seized by Ethiopian forces last month, the Agence France Presse reports.

Saturday’s attack comes hours after the African Union (AU) announced that Ethiopian troops, hundreds of whom crossed into Somalia in November, are to be withdrawn from Baidoa and another recently recaptured town, Beledweyne, by the end of April, to be replaced by forces from Djibouti, Uganda and Burundi, Reuters reports.

It is not clear if all Ethiopian forces will be withdrawn from the country. In January Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said troops would be pulled out once AU forces were in place, GlobalPost reports.

More from GlobalPost: Al Shabaab losing ground in Africa

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120310/somalia-al-shabaab-ambushes-ethiopian-troops-killing-dozens