Ethiopian troops fighting militant Islamist group al-Shabab have withdrawn from a key military base in central Somalia’s Hiran region, residents say.
Al-Shabab fighters have taken control of Halgan town following the withdrawal, the residents added.
Ethiopian forces had destroyed the base before abandoning the area, a residents who asked not to be named told Radio Dalsan.
Hundreds of al-shabab fighters have been seen inside the town, however the Ethiopian troops who vacated the town headed towards Beledweyne town.
“The Ethiopian troops pulled out of El-Ali town early this morning,” said wetness, adding the reason for the withdrawal was unclear.
“They have headed for Beledweyne and the town is already taken by Shabaab militants,” he said.
The troop movement comes just days after Ethiopia’s embattled government declared a state of emergency in a bid to bring an unprecedented wave of protests under control.
Ethiopian has not commented on the withdrawal.
In June, al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, said it had killed 60 Ethiopian soldiers in an attack on a base in Halgan town, also in central Somalia.
Some Ethiopian soldiers are in Somalia as part of a 22,000-strong African Union (AU) force while others are there as a result of a bilateral deal with the weak Somali government.
The Ethiopian soldiers in the AU mission are responsible for securing Bay, Bakool, and Gedo regions but are also present in Hiran, which borders Ethiopia.
By Hassan Istiila