News / Africa

Somali Government Denies Ethiopia Sent Troops into Somalia

TEXT SIZE - +

Somalia's Transitional Federal Government is denying reports that Ethiopian troops have taken the town of Beledweyn from al-Shabab militants in the central Hiran region. A government spokesman says there is no Ethiopian military presence in Somalia.

Somali government spokesman Mohamed Nor Dabaashe issued a statement Tuesday refuting eyewitness reports that hundreds of Ethiopians soldiers carried out operations against al-Shabab militants around Beledweyne in recent days, and have entered the strategic town near the Ethiopian-Somali border.

Dabaashe called the information "false" and said there were no Ethiopian forces inside Somali territory. The spokesman said government troops are amassing in the town of Kalabeyr, another key junction that links much of Somalia to the Ethiopian border, preparing to attack al-Shabab forces in Hiran.

VOA sources in Beledweyne say a large number of Ethiopians crossed the border several times in armored trucks last week. The sources say the troops, along with some Somali government forces, took Beledweyne peacefully Monday after the militants withdrew.

If Addis Ababa has sent troops into Somalia, analysts say the timing suggests it may be aimed at achieving two objectives:  First, to draw al-Shabab's attention and resources away from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, where the al-Qaida-linked group has recently redoubled their effort to topple the Somali government. And second, to possibly pave the way for the start of the long-awaited offensive by pro-government forces to capture ground from al-Shabab in several regions of Somalia including Hiran, Galgadud, Gedo, Bakool, and Middle Shabelle.

A detailed plan of the offensive was reportedly discussed in late July in Addis Ababa at a meeting sponsored by the regional East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development bloc.

Al-Shabab is the most powerful armed group in Somalia, controlling most of the country's south and the capital. It is considered a terrorist group by several Western countries, including the United States.

Al-Shabab was once a part of the Islamic Courts Union, which briefly ruled Somalia in 2006. With U.S. support, Ethiopia militarily intervened late that year to oust the courts from power and to install the U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.

Addis Ababa withdrew its military in 2009 after Islamist leader and now-President Sharif Sheik Ahmed joined the government, promising to bring an end to the Islamist insurgency. But allegations of gross human rights violations by troops during the Ethiopian occupation created deep resentment and anger in Somalia.

Many western analysts have since suggested that the occupation helped swell al-Shabab's ranks and gave the group's radical leaders the credibility they needed to attract the support of groups like al-Qaida.    

Meanwhile, an al-Shabab military spokesman in Mogadishu, Abdiaziz Abu Musaab, confirmed the group had carried out Monday's mortar attack on African Union peacekeepers guarding the presidential palace. The attack killed four Ugandan soldiers and wounded several others.

Hinting that al-Shabab may be receiving intelligence from inside the presidential palace, the al-Shabab commander claims the group fired the mortar deliberately and accurately at a Ugandan troop position.

The spokesman for the peacekeeping mission called the mortar strike a "lucky hit" for the insurgents.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid