Ethiopian forces capture key Somali rebel stronghold

By REUTERS
February 22, 2012 21:44

 
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MOGADISHU - Ethiopian and Somali troops seized on Wednesday the strategic city of Baidoa from Islamist militants who deserted their positions but vowed to avenge the loss with "fire and explosions".

Losing control of Baidoa is a major blow for the al Qaeda-backed al Shabaab rebel group which is also battling Kenyan troops to hold on to territory in southern Somalia and against African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) around the capital.

The Ethiopian-led offensive came as the UN Security Council voted to expand the African Union peacekeeping force by almost half to almost 18,000 soldiers, and on the eve of a conference in London to tackle Somalia's turmoil.

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