Several hundred Ethiopian troops crossed on Saturday into southern and central Somalia, local elders said, but Addis Ababa dismissed the reports as ‘absolutely not true.’
‘There are several hundred Ethiopian troops here in lorries and some armoured vehicles too,’ said elder Abdi Ibrahim Warsame, speaking by telephone from Gurel town, in Somalia’s central Galgudud region.
Ethiopian forces were also reported in the Hiran region at the town of Beletweyne, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) into Somalia, an area contested by Islamist al-Shabaab rebels and pro-government militia.
‘They are here, the Ethiopian soldiers in trucks have reached Beletweyne with many forces,’ said elder Ahmed Liban. ‘The Shebab in the area are pulling back, away from them.’