From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Feb 03 2009 - 10:04:48 EST
Ethiopian troops crossing back into Somalia
MOGADISHU (AFP) - Ethiopian troops have crossed the border back into central
Somalia, only days after Addis Ababa completed a military pullout from its
neighbour, witnesses and officials said Tuesday.
An official for the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), the movement of
newly-elected Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said some
Ethiopian troops had crossed from the border town of Ferfer to the village
"The Ethiopian forces are violating the basic integrity of Somalia again and
they entered the Hiran region only days after their government announced its
complete withdrawal from the country," Ahmed Osman Abdalla, ICU commander in
the nearby western town of Beledweyn, told AFP by phone.
"If they do not pull out of our country, we will fight them to death," he
Local residents said that Ethiopian forces had set up a checkpoint in Ferfer
and were checking trucks and other vehicles crossing the border.
"They stopped a bus I was on in Ferfer and I could see they were checking
all vehicles passing in the area," Osman Adan said.
Local elders in Beledweyn also expressed concerns over the return of
Ethiopian forces in the region.
"The move shows that Ethiopia is still creating insecurity in Somalia
because they sent their troops back to Somalia and they are now only 25
kilometres (16 miles) from our town," Beledweyn elder Haji Adan Mohamed
Ethiopian troops completed their withdrawal from Somalia in January, more
than two years after invading to remove the ICU, which had taken control of
large parts of the country.
Ethiopia propped up a weak transitional government and forced Sheikh Sharif
into exile, but after two years of bloodshed in Somalia, more radical
Islamist groups have gained influence.
Sheikh Sharif was elected Somalia's new president in Djibouti on Saturday
and his erstwhile foe, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, described his
victory as a positive step towards restoring peace in Somalia.
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