Street FIGHT:Conflict
Al-Shabaab Roadside Bomb Hits Beledweyne
Six Ethiopian Soldiers Die in Attack
By AWEYS CADDE 02/01/2012
At least six Ethiopian soldiers were killed and more than five were injured as two explosions targeted troops passing through the center of Beledewyne, Hiraan region, on Wednesday morning, an eyewitness said.

According to local residents, following the attacks Ethiopian troops killed at least five civilians, including students, teachers, and women who were passing near the scene.

“The blast took place in Hawo-Tako neighborhood, were the Ethiopians fetch water every day. The Ethiopians captured many residents and killed them at the scene,” a local journalist who requested anonymity told Somalia Report.

“The first blast was a roadside bomb which destroyed an Ethiopian military vehicle, and the other was a grenade attack. Also, I have information that the Ethiopians killed the one who threw the grenade,” the source added.

Sources within the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Shabelle Valley Administration (SVA) confirmed the civilian deaths to Somalia Report, but would not speak on the record for fear of Ethiopian reprisals.

Ethiopian and TFG forces began a massive security operation in Nuur-hawaad and Hawo-tako neighborhoods, taking several residents into custody, including prominent elders and merchants.

Tensions are very high, and many security personnel line the streets, restricting the movements of residents and vehicles.

Al-Shabaab insurgents have claimed responsibility for the attacks.

''We have killed six Ethiopian soldiers, and injured many others in a roadside bomb in Beledweyne,'' an al-Shabaab spokesman announced.

No immediate comments were available from TFG, pro-government militia Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa (ASWJ), or SVA officials, who all share control of Beledweyne.

The Ethiopian military rarely comments on its ongoing operations.

This incident is the fifth such attack targeting Ethiopian troops in Beledweyne district and the second time that Ethiopians have responded by killing civilians, since they seized parts of Hiran region late December of last year.

On January 24, a truck bombing in Beledweyne, the first suicide attack in the city for almost three years, killed at least 10 Ethiopian soliders.

Fear is gripping the residents of Beledewyne, especially the youth, who have started to flee the region to avoid being caught up in anti-terrorist security sweeps by the Ethiopian forces.