Ethiopia Captures Key Somali Town of Beledweyne

Civilians Flee as Town Changes Hands Yet Again

Thousands of Ethiopian troops invaded the key central Somali town of Beledweyne yesterday, and reports are now coming out that the town has been captured, with the Ethiopian government planning to transfer it to the control of the self-proclaimed Somali government.

It is the third time the Ethiopian military has conquered Beledweyne in a major battle, with previous attacks in 2006 and 2008. The town has also regularly changed hands amongst internal factions.

Al-Shabaab has confirmed withdrawing from the town, but says that their forces are massing around the outside and planning to retake it. Reports also have civilians fleeing in anticipation of another battle to contest the town’s fate.

Beledweyne is one of several central towns often considered the “key” to offensives against the rest of the country, and as such is commonly targeted during offensives. Ethiopia is the most recent nation to have invaded Somalia, returning in force last month after ending their last occupation in 2009.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.