- Ethiopia government has rejected Tuesday reports alleging that its troops had re-entered Somalia to counter the Islamist group al-Shabaab, just a week after their full withdrawal in war torn Horn of Africa state.
Tuesdays reports quoted Somali residents saying Ethiopian troops arrived in military vehicles on Monday at a Somali Border town of Kalabeyrka, a few kilometres from the border.
The Ethiopian government described the reports as false, saying its troops are within its territory, and said it had no intention of returning to Somalia. An official said reports about Ethiopia's visibility in the country are only aimed at derailing the peace process that the country is trying to establish.
Somalia elected Sheikh Sharif Ahmed as new moderate president in Djibouti on Saturday, which was hailed as a bold step in restoring peace and order. His appointment came after the resignation of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.
However, officials in the country's capital, Addis Ababa said the country was keeping a heavy troop presence on the border in case of threats to its security after withdrawal.
Local reports said an official for the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), the movement of newly-elected Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, has reported that some Ethiopian troops had crossed from the border town of Ferfer to the village of Kalabeyrka.
Ethiopian troops occupied parts of Somalia for more than two years after ousting the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from the capital Mogadishu in December 2006.
The UIC and other armed anti-government factions waged attacks against government forces and Ethiopian troops. The Ethiopian withdrawal was part of a peace deal agreed recently between the government and moderate Islamists.
Somali's radical Islamists rebel group, al-Shabab, has called on Somalis to intensify their war against AU troops, which are charged with protecting civilians. It said it will intensify its attacks if the AU troops do not leave Somalia.
The last Ethiopian troops withdrew on January 25 in a move widely welcomed by Somalis who had viewed the troops as an occupying force. However, their withdrawal has sparked fears of a security vacuum in the country.
The African Union (AU) peacekeeping force remains inside the country, consisting of Ugandan and Burundian troops.
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