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Somalis Stage Anti-Ethiopian Protest in Mogadishu


Several hundred Somalis have taken to the streets of the capital city, Mogadishu, to protest the presence of Ethiopian troops who are backing the interim government.

Protesters shouted "down with Ethiopia" as they burned tires and threw stones during Saturday's demonstrations. Ethiopian forces fired shots in the air to disperse the crowd.

The protesters were also angered over an ultimatum issued earlier in the week by Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi for residents to either voluntarily surrender their weapons or have them forcibly taken. The ultimatum was largely ignored.

Ethiopian troops joined government forces to drive out Islamic fighters who had seized control of Mogadishu and much of Somalia for six months. The eastern African nation has been mired in anarchy since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991.

On Friday, the United States pledged $40 million to support a proposed peacekeeping force in Somalia, as well as humanitarian and development aid. The pledge was issued after a meeting of Western, African and Arab diplomats in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

Participants pushed for a quick deployment of foreign peacekeepers, approved last month by the United Nations. So far, Uganda is the only country to have pledged troops for the mission.

The top U.S. diplomat to Africa, Jendayi Frazer, says she believes the proposed peacekeeping force could be in Somalia by the end of this month.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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