ETHIOPIA PREPARED TO INVADE SOMALIA
By LES NEUHAUS, Associated Press Writer
July 19, 2006
- Ethiopia is prepared to invade neighboring Somalia to defend its U.N.-backed government against what appeared to be an imminent
attack by Islamic militiamen, a government spokesman said Wednesday.
The militiamen, who hold
most of southern Somalia, deployed hundreds
of fighters outside the town where the largely powerless government is based and said they planned to seize it.
"We have the responsibility
to defend the border and the Somali government. We will crush them," Ethiopia's
Minister of Information, Berhan Hailu, told The Associated Press.
Seizing the town of Baidoa would give the Islamic militia — which the United States
has linked to al-Qaida — the uncontested authority over most of Somalia.
Somali transitional President
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed is allied with Ethiopia,
and has asked for its support. Ethiopia has intervened militarily in Somalia in the past, and hundreds of Ethiopian troops have
been spotted along the countries' border in recent weeks.
The Somali Islamist militants
are allied with Muslim separatists in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.