Ethiopia crosses into Somalia: witnesses

Ethiopia crosses into Somalia: witnesses


Scores of Ethiopian military vehicles pushed at least 80 kilometers into neighboring Somalia on Nov. 19, residents said, five weeks after Kenya entered Somalia to fight Islamist militants it blames for a wave of kidnappings on its soil.

“The Ethiopian troops, which are in convoys of armored vehicles, come to us today, crossing from Balanbale district on the border,” Gabobe Adan, an elder in the town of Guriel said. “They were in about 28 trucks and armed battle wagons - the armed vehicles are very big.”

If confirmed, it would be Addis Ababa’s first large scale incursion since it invaded Somalia in 2006 with U.S. backing. Ethiopia pulled out three years later after failing to restore order in its lawless neighbor, which has lacked a functioning government for two decades.

Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabab militants warned Ethiopia yesterday they would “break the necks” of their troops inside Somalia. “We will break the necks of the invaders. ... Our troops are ready for anything, if the Ethiopian enemy try to attack us,” Ugas added, speaking on the group’s radio Al Andalus.

Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti on Saturday dismissed the reports outright, saying there were “absolutely no troops in Somalia.” Hardline Shebab insurgents control much of southern Somalia, but are battling both the Western-backed government in Mogadishu and Kenyan troops in the far south, who crossed the border last month to attack rebel strongholds.

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.