Ethiopia forces kill 85 Al-Shabaab fighters near Somalia

Ethiopia forces kill 85 Al-Shabaab fighters near Somalia
At least 85 Al-Shabaab militiamen were killed by regional counter-insurgency forces on the Ethiopia-Somalia border during clashes
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Forces from Ethiopia's Somali region killed 85 Al-Shabaab fighters [Getty]

Regional forces in southeast Ethiopia killed 85 Al-Shabaab militiamen during border clashes on Monday, the state broadcaster and a regional commander said, days after the insurgents staged rare raids in the area.

The fighting adds to the security headaches for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as he tries to quell an insurgency in Oromiya region, pacify disgruntled paramilitary groups in Amhara region, and start peace negotiations with the rebellious northern region of Tigray.

Forces from Ethiopia's Somali region killed 85 Al-Shabaab fighters, and wounded and captured more in the Ferfer district near the border with Somalia, broadcaster etv said.

A commander with Somali regional forces, who asked not to be identified, said 85 Al-Shabaab fighters had been killed. Reuters could not reach Al-Shabaab's spokesperson for comment.

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He said his forces had killed 243 al Shabaab fighters in total since the Al-Qaeda-linked group raided two villages last Wednesday and that 22 of his own troops had died.

The commander shared photographs that appeared to show half a dozen dead bodies wearing mostly military fatigues and an Ethiopian fighter displaying al Shabaab's black flag.

A resident of Ferfer town over the border in Somalia said a group of al Shabaab fighters had been pushed back into Somalia during fighting in Ethiopia on Monday.

The president of Ethiopia's Somali region did not respond to a request for comment.

Al-Shabaab control large swathes of Somalia and have killed tens of thousands of people in bombings in their fight to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed central government and implement its interpretation of Islamic law.

Attacks by Al-Shabaab in areas near Ethiopia's border with Somalia are rare because of a strong Ethiopian security presence. Ethiopia has federal troops in Somalia, including as part of an African Union peacekeeping force.