October 4, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia said on Thursday that it has reduced the number of troops deployed in war-torn neighbouring Somalia, saying a period of relative peace and stability has been restored.
“Ethiopia has reduced its troop size in Somalia, but the remaining troops are very capable of doing their job of securing stability”, the ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson, Dina Mufti, said at a press conference.
Mufti did not put an exact figure on the number of troops cut or those that would be remaining in Somalia.
He said Ethiopian troops will remain in Somalia until Al-Shabaab is fully weakened, adding that the battle against the terrorist group was not a matter solely for Somalia and its neighbours alone, but also an issue for the wider global community.
The official said the East African nation was preparing to step up its battle against the al-Qaeda-allied group, but said the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) had been slow in taking over security from Ethiopia.
He said the Islamist militant group’s August attack on a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi won’t change Ethiopia’s policy towards Somalia.
Ethiopia will continue to extend support towards maintaining peace and stability in Somalia, he added.
Ethiopia first sent its troops to Somalia in 2006 to help the weak Somali government fight against the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which was in control of the capital Mogadishu, as well as larger southern parts of the country.
Following the military intervention, the group waged jihad (holy war) against Ethiopia and other foreign forces.
In 2009, Addis Ababa withdrew its troops from Somalia but redeployed them again in late 2011.
An estimated 8,000 Ethiopian troops are currently in control of many parts of the country which have been liberated from Al-Shabaab troops.