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Somali Protesters Vow Fight Against Ethiopian Troops


Islamist leaders in Somalia are vowing to fight Ethiopian troops who entered the country last week to protect the weak transitional government.

The Islamists held an anti-Ethiopian rally Monday in the capital, Mogadishu, where militia leader Sheikh Mukhtar Robow promised that Ethiopia will suffer casualties unless the troops are withdrawn.

Estimates of the crowd ranged from several hundred to several thousand. The protesters chanted anti-Ethiopian slogans and burned an Ethiopian flag.

Ethiopia has denied sending troops into Somali territory. But numerous witnesses report seeing the troops in the transitional government's home base, Baidoa, and in the town of Wajid.

The soldiers entered Somalia last week after Islamic fighters briefly moved to within 40 kilometers of Baidoa.

The transitional government has international backing but little power outside its base.

Scheduled talks between the government and the Islamists fell apart on Sunday after the Islamists walked out to protest the Ethiopian incursion.

Ethiopia, a largely Christian country, is believed to oppose the creation of a hardline Muslim state on its doorstep.

Somalia's Islamic courts have moved to implement a strict form of Islamic sharia law in the areas under their control, which include the capital and much of southern Somalia.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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