Somali militants on Monday recaptured Elbur town in central Somalia after Somali government and the African Union peacekeeping (AMISOM) forces pulled out.
Elbur District Commissioner Nur Hassan Gutale told reporters that the joint forces withdrew from the town on Monday morning, allowing the heavily armed Al-Shabaab fighters to return.
“Ethiopian troops under AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) withdrew from their bases in Elbur town, a strategic town in Galgudud region this morning, the withdrawal was made by AMISOM first, and then government forces as they could not stay there alone because they were not prepared,” Gutale said.
He accused AMISOM troops of not informing them of the unexpected pullout from the town which allowed the insurgents to enter without any resistance. The reason for the troops’ withdrawal from the town was not clear.
“They did not inform us that they are leaving and this is a sudden decision. Al-Shabaab militants recaptured the town and our forces are in an area west of the town,” the government official said.
Gutale added that Galmudug State Administration will take action against the militants in the coming week. “The enemy group (Al-Shabaab) will target civilians, therefore, we are working to flush them out of the town and liberate the town,” he added.
Local residents said the militants who have waged near-daily attacks against government and AU bases in Somalia hoisted their black banner on the top buildings to alert the locals about their return to the town.
The residents said the allied forces backed by tanks and armored vehicles were seen heading to Dhusamareb, the regional capital of Galgaduud region.
The allied forces have been in Elbur town since 2014 after several residents had fled the town due to fear inflicted by the insurgents.