Ethiopia has claimed a military victory against Somali militants, Al-Shabab, a day before a key summit on Somalia in London.
Somalia, regarded as a failed state, has not had a substantive government in 17 years, giving rise to militants and vigilante groups, among them Al-Shabab that have tormented the East African region.
The London summit is expected to call for the pooling of international efforts in a bid to strengthen the political process in Somalia.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday said the country with the help of Kenya and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia has scored a major military victory on the militant Al Shabab.
An official at the ministry said the coordinated military operations, to wipe out Al-Shabaab in Somalia, had left fighters of the al-Qaeda linked extremist group in “disarray”.
Soldiers from Ethiopian, Kenya, TFG of Somalia as well as an African Union force, AMIOSM, are carrying out an offensive against Al-Shabaab in various parts of Somalia.
Getachew Reda, Public Diplomacy and Communications Director General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the terrorist group had been weakened greatly.
“Al-Shabaab at this point in time is in disarray. They are only left with heinous crimes of suicide bombings,” Getachew said. “Al-Shabab, as a fighting force is very likely to disappear.”
The official said the operation would continue until Al-Shabab was wiped out or too weakened to launch any significant attack.
Ethiopia sent its troops to Somalia last month for the second time, upon requests from IGAD and TFG of Somalia. The first Ethiopian deployment was in December 2006 when its forces ejected the Union of Islamic Court (UIC) shortly after they took over power.
Kenya also sent troops across its border into Somalia in October to battle Al-Shabaab, and African Union forces, made up of troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti are fighting the group in the capital, Mogadishu.
“There is no unified command [of these operations]. However, the military offensives against Al-Shabaab are carried out in a coordinated manner with each having their own zones of operations,” said Getachew.
Last December Ethiopian forces, fighting alongside pro-TFG militias in Somalia managed to remove Al-Shabaab fighters from Baledweyne and Hiran regions in central Somalia.
According to the official, Ethiopia has done a significant part of its job by handing over the liberated areas to militias who have aligned themselves with the TFG.
He urged political actors in Somalia, including the international community, to bring their efforts together for a lasting peace and stability to Somalia.
“The military solutions can only create an enabling condition for putting in place a political structure that will effectively address the problems of Somalia,” added Getachew.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will attend Thursday’s conference on Somalia in London.
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