Ethiopia says troops to stay longer in Somalia
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, June 22 (Reuters) - Ethiopia plans to keep its troops in Somalia until the Horn of Africa country ratifies a constitution and its military is able to fend off militant threats on its own, an official said on Friday, signalling a change in policy.
Addis Ababa rolled hundreds of troops across its border in November to open up a third front against the al Qaeda-allied al Shabaab group but was keen to point out their incursion is not a repeat of their ill-fated 2006-2009 war in Somalia.
Ethiopian officials have said their troops would only be deployed for a brief period to fight Islamist militants who are also fighting thousands of Ugandan and Burundian troops under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as well as Kenyan forces to the south.
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Ethiopian troops abandon some Somali towns
MOGADISHU, Somalia—Witnesses say that hundreds of gun-toting al-Shabab fighters have moved back into central Somali towns abandoned over the last week by Ethiopian troops.
Ali Muhyadin, a resident in the town of El-bur, said Tuesday that residents woke up on Sunday and found that Ethiopian troops had abandoned their bases.
Residents said al-Shabab fighters then beheaded two men accused of collaborating with the Ethiopians and dumped their headless bodies in town.
Al-Shabab was reported to have returned to two other towns -- Mahas and Wabho -- after Ethiopian troops left.
Ethiopia's president recently promised that Ethiopian forces would leave Somalia soon. Ethiopian forces still occupy the larger towns of Baidoa and Beledweyne
Somali rebels pull out as Ethiopian troops return
By Mohamed Ahmed
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Al Shabaab militants have begun pulling out of at least two rebel enclaves in central Somalia after neighbouring Ethiopia sent hundreds of troops across the border, residents said on Monday.
Addis Ababa denied on Sunday that its forces had entered yet Somalia, but local residents and elders said scores of Ethiopian vehicles ferrying troops and weapons moved at least 80 km (50 miles) into the Horn of Africa country over the weekend.
Local people in Beledweyne and Ceelbuur, both close to the Ethiopian frontier and under insurgent control, said the Islamist fighters had abandoned checkpoints where they used to extort taxes and left their battle stations.
US official warns Ethiopia not to invade Somalia, but it's too late
NAIROBI, Kenya -- The State Department's top Africa policymaker on Tuesday warned Ethiopia not to invade Somalia, but the warning came too late, with Somalis claiming that Ethiopian troops were already rolling through their villages in trucks.
The statement from Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was a sign that Washington is growing increasingly wary of a month-old offensive against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab that was launched by Kenya and now appears to include Ethiopia.
"We firmly believe that the best way to deal with al-Shabab and the way to restore stability is working with AMISOM militarily, using them as a vehicle to advance security," Carson said in response to a question during a conference call with reporters. AMISOM is the acronym for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, which is manned mostly by troops from Uganda and Burundi.
Read more: Miami Herald
Somalia Confirms Ethiopian Troop Presence
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.