From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Dec 09 2008 - 15:47:26 EST
Ethiopia sends more troops into Somalia
Ethiopia redeploys troops across border into Somalia, reoccupies former
military positions in Mogadishu.
MOGADISHU - Ethiopia sent troops across the border into Somalia on Tuesday
and reoccupied former military positions in Mogadishu, raising questions
about its withdrawal plans, witnesses said.
Addis Ababa did not comment on the troop movements, which some residents saw
as negating Ethiopia's pledge to pull out its troops by the end of the year,
while others interpreted it as a tactical move to ensure a smooth
"The Ethiopians deployed a battalion of their troops in Somalia's border
town of Kalabeyr in the central Hiran region," said Abdi Moalin Farah, a
resident in the nearby town of Beledweyn.
"I don't know what they want," he said, adding that the troops had left
their positions there only two weeks earlier.
Other witnesses in the region confirmed the redeployment.
In the capital Mogadishu, Ethiopian troops reoccupied part of the northern
district of Yaqshiid, residents said.
"Three areas which were vacated by Ethiopian troops five days ago were
reoccupied," said Abdullahe Mohamud, a local businessman. "Their actions
show that Ethiopia is not sincere when it pledges to leave Somalia."
Ethiopia's foreign ministry announced late last month that it would pull its
troops out of Somalia by year's end, wrapping up its ill-fated two-year
occupation of the conflict-ridden country.
Ethiopia subsequently said it could delay its pullout "by a few days."
The Ethiopian army invaded Somalia in late 2006 to rescue Somalia's
embattled transitional government and oust the Islamic Courts Union (ICU),
which controlled of much of the country's central and southern regions.
The ICU had ruled much of Somalia with relative peace and prosperity until
the Ethiopian involvement.
Since then, ICU fighters have waged a deadly insurgency against the
Ethiopian and the transitional government forces.
But Ethiopian troops' retaliations have caused many casualties among Somali
Since the Ethiopian invasion, about one million Somalis have fled their
homes. An estimated 6,500 civilians have been killed.
Aid workers estimate 2.6 million Somalis need assistance. That number is
expected to reach 3.5 million by the end of the year if the humanitarian
situation does not improve, according to the UN.
In May 2008, Amnesty International accused the Ethiopian troops in Somalia
of increasingly resorting to throat-slitting executions, highlighting an
"increasing incidence" of gruesome methods by Ethiopian forces that include
rape and torture.
Since the ousting of the ICU, Somalia had plunged into unprecedented chaos,
where warlords and pirates have returned to the scene.
Many in Somalia see the departure of Ethiopian troops as a precondition to
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