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Ethiopians Leave Southern Somali Town

09 March 2007

Ethiopian troops have withdrawn from the southern Somali city of Kismayo.

Somali officials on the scene say the Ethiopians left Kismayo on Thursday, leaving it in the hands of Somalia's transitional government.

Ethiopian forces took control of the port city in December while helping the government defeat a rival Islamist movement that had taken over much of southern Somalia.

Somali officials did not say where the hundreds of Ethiopian troops are going.

Ethiopia has said it will gradually withdraw all its troops from Somalia as more African Union peacekeepers arrive.

About 1,000 AU troops from Uganda arrived in the capital, Mogadishu, this week. A plane carrying several more Ugandan troops caught fire as it landed at Mogadishu's airport Friday. A Ugandan army spokesman said the fire was caused by a mechanical failure and that no one was injured.

The AU is trying to help Somalia's government stabilize the country in the face of challenges from clans and the remnants of the Islamist movement.

The peacekeepers have already come under at least two attacks from anti-government insurgents. An attack in the capital late Wednesday sparked a gunbattle that killed 11 people, most of them civilians.

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