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Rumors of Ethiopian Troops in Somalia Spark Controversy

There are reports that Ethiopian troops moved into a second Somali town over the weekend. Witnesses say about 200 Ethiopian troops entered the town of Wajid Saturday, some 100 kilometers inside Somali territory. Ethiopian troops first crossed the border on Thursday and entered Baidoa, the southern base of Somalia’s transitional government, which has international backing but little influence beyond Baidoa. Bereket Simon is advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty about the possibility of Ethiopian troops moving into Somalia.

“We are not interested in entering Somalia right now. Of course we are worried with the developments in Mogadishu. As you know, they have declared Jihad on Ethiopia. Fundamentalists have been using Somalia as a springboard. They have been using several types of terrorist tactics which is all sorts of bombings, and that same government is in Somalia. So why not we be worried?”

Mr. Simon says Ethiopia differentiates between the Islamic Courts who he says have every right to follow their Sharia religious obligations. But says there are elements of al Quada in the leadership of the Islamic Courts.

Mr. Simon denies that there were Ethiopian troops in Baidoa to protect the Somali transitional government.

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