A large number of Ethiopian troops in military vehicles on Sunday reached Somali villages after crossing its borders with Hiran region in Central Somalia.
The Ethiopians, according to residents in the Beledweyne town, 335 kilometres north of Mogadishu, seem more serious than before to tackle the authority of Al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist group opposing the Transitional Federal Government, in Hiran region.
Crossed the border
Residents along the border area contacted by The Nation confirmed that the Ethiopian troops crossed the border between Somalia twice in five days.
“In both cases, the Ethiopians were accompanied by highly trained Somali soldiers that are loyal to the TFG,” said Mr Aden Abdi Yusuf, a businessman in Beledweyne.
The Ethiopian troop’s movements come at a time Al-Shabaab militants occasionally venture close to the border with Ethiopia.
According to Hussein Abdallah, a loyalist of Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea, a moderate Islamist group allied with the Somali government, the movements may be a preliminary action to signal Al-Shabaab authorities that the Ethiopians are capable of weakening the strength of the radical Islamists.
This will be done should they continue pressing hard on the TFG and the peacekeepers serving the African Union Mission in Somalia, Amisom, in Mogadishu.
Early this month, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi said that he would deploy forces should Amisom peacekeepers guarding vital installations in Mogadishu find themselves in great danger and request assistance.