(AFP) Mogadishu — Some 4,000 Ethiopian troops in Somalia on Wednesday formally joined the UN-backed African Union force in the country as it seeks to boost operations against Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, officials said.
Hardline Shebab insurgents control large parts of rural southern Somalia, and despite having been driven from a string of towns by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), guerrilla units stage regular deadly attacks in the capital Mogadishu.
Ethiopian troops crossed into Somalia in November 2011 to battle Shebab militants.
Their inclusion into AMISOM will free up other units to stage a long-awaited offensive on Shebab bases in the far southern regions of Lower and Middle Shabelle, with Kenyan units advancing from the south, and Uganda and Burundi pressing from the north.
After a series of sweeping victories, the force has remained largely still for around a year, hampered by limited troops and air power to advance again.
The Shebab-controlled port of Barawe, one of the last sea access routes for the extremists, is a key target for the force. Read more…