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Last Ethiopian troops leave Mogadishu

MOGADISHU Jan 15 – Ethiopian troops on Thursday completed their withdrawal from Mogadishu, a Somali government spokesman told AFP.

"I can confirm that the Ethiopian soldiers have fully withdrawn from the capital this morning and none of them remain," said Abdi Haji Gobdon, spokesman for the Somali transitional government.

Ibrahim Abdi Mohamed, who lives 30 kilometres south of the capital told AFP: "The last troops left early morning and we have no Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu.

"The last convoy of 30 trucks were seen on their way to Afgoye road," he added.

The pull-out from the capital, which started on Tuesday, came as part of the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia after just over two years.

Their forces entered Somalia in late 2006 to support the fragile transitional government against Islamist insurgents who had won control of most of the country.

Ethiopia announced on January 2 that it had started the final withdrawal of its forces from Somali territory, but warned the process would take some time.

But Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi warned on Thursday that there would be no turning back.

"There is no need to rush and I suspect our troops would want to pull out without rushing," said Zenawi, speaking in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

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"That said the withdrawal process has begun and there is no turning back," he said, when asked about the possibility of his sending Ethiopian troops back into the war-torn country.

Ethiopian troops will remain on the border between the two countries as a precaution, he added.

"It would be very prudent to be alert," he added. "We have more than a decade of experience in this regard, we need to have a robust deployment of troops across the border."


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