Somalia Confirms Ethiopian Troop Presence

Posted November 20th, 2011 at 5:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Somalia's defense minister has confirmed Ethiopian troops are in Somalia to fight against Islamist al-Shabab militants.

Hussein Arab Issa told VOA Sunday the government welcomes anyone who will help fight against the al-Qaida-linked group. He said the Ethiopians will share intelligence and work alongside Somali government forces.

Residents in central Somalia told journalists they saw Ethiopian military convoys moving into the country on Saturday and Sunday.

Ethiopia has denied sending its forces across the border.

Last month, Kenya also sent troops into Somalia to fight against al-Shabab. Kenya has accused al-Shabab militants of crossing into Kenyan territory from Somalia and kidnapping several foreigners.

Al-Shabab has been fighting since 2008 to topple the weak central government. The group recently left the capital, Mogadishu, but still controls large sections of southern and central Somalia.

Ethiopian troops last entered Somalia in 2006 to defeat the Islamic Courts Union — an administration of Islamist courts that rivaled the nascent Transitional Federal Government. That intervention was widely unpopular.