Ethiopian troops are reported to have entered Somalia in a move expected to raise tensions between Islamic militiamen who control much of the country and the interim Somali government.
Residents said Sunday they witnessed vehicles carrying Ethiopian soldiers headed toward Baidoa, the base for Somalia's fragile interim leadership.
Ethiopia has promised to protect Somalia's interim government from the Islamist advance but Islamists oppose the presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalia.
Ethiopia previously has denied having any soldiers in Somalia.
Militias loyal to Somalia's Council of Islamic Courts recently seized control of the capital and other cities, and have vowed to enforce a strict form of Islamic law.
The interim government has requested U.N. peacekeepers, despite opposition from Somalia's Islamic Courts leaders.
The government and Islamists held peace talks in Sudan in June, but efforts to organize a second meeting have been unsuccessful.
Somalia has suffered some 15 years of anarchy since the last effective government was toppled in 1991.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.