BELEDWEYN – More Ethiopian troops with armored vehicles have reached near Beledweyn town in central Somalia as Ethiopia said that it does not plan to send troops into Somalia, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Thursday.
Residents in El-gal and Ilka’adde villages about 20 kilometers north of Beledweyn town said that they had seen more Ethiopian units with many battle wagons pouring in there at overnight until Thursday morning adding that the troops made military movement in Kala-beyrka intersection in Hiran region.
“The Ethiopian troops arrived at El-gal village last night and they had been there for several hours and lately returned back from the village. They were including infantry troops and others with armed trucks,” one resident said.
Reports from Kala-beyrka intersection say that more extra troops from Ethiopia crossed from the border joining to the other Ethiopian troops who had already been there.
It is unclear why the Ethiopian troops are returning back to parts of the central regions of Somalia and their deployment comes as the Ethiopian government spokesman Baraket Simon said that his government is not planning to send troops to Somali.
Ethiopia will stay out of Somalia despite threat
ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia on Wednesday said it will not send troops to Somalia, though a hardline Islamist militia fighting to topple the Somali government recently threatened to invade the neighbouring country.
“No matter what has been said, our position is that we are not entering Somalia at this point,” government spokesman Bereket Simon told reporters.
He nonetheless termed this week’s threat by the hardline Shebab fighters as “an open declaration of war,” and said Addis Ababa was closely monitoring events in the war-ravaged neighbouring state.
Ethiopian troops rolled into Somalia in late 2006 to buttress an embattled government but withdrew earlier this year.
Somali residents have recently reported seeing truckloads of Ethiopian troops around the country’s central regions but Ethiopian officials have repeatedly denied those claims.
On May 7, the Shebab and Hezb al-Islam, a more political group, launched an unprecedented nationwide offensive against the administration of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
The internationally backed Sharif has been holed up in his presidential quarters, protected by African Union peacekeepers as his forces were unable to reassert their authority over the capital.
Around 300 people are confirmed to have been killed in the latest violence, many of them civilians.
- By Shebelle Media Network
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