Residents in one of the two captured towns — Yurkud — said they saw tanks and trucks carrying Ethiopian troops arrive after a brief gun battle with al-Shabab fighters who vacated the village.
"Ethiopian troops are here now, al-Shabab have left few hours ago," Yusuf Ali, a resident in the village, said by phone. "Most of the residents fled because fears of fighting in the village, but the situation is quiet now."
Residents in Baidoa said that bearded, masked men shut down businesses and ordered residents to join them, indicating military pressure is looming. Teenagers were reported to be conscripted.
"Most of the businesses were closed and they took many of the town residents to the front line," Mahad Abdi Nur, a resident in Baidoa, said by phone. "They warned that any men of fighting age who don't enlist will be punished."
Associated Press reporter Abdi Guled in Mogadishu contributed to this report.
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