MOGADISHU (Somalilandpress) — Ethiopian troops have crossed back into the northern regions of Bakool and Hiiraan in Somalia on Sunday, local residents confirm.

Ethiopian troops return comes as Somali government launches a fresh offensive against Islamist insurgents in the south of the country vowing to drive them out.

Residents in Elbarde and Yeed said that they saw a convey of Ethiopian troops accompanied by hundreds of Somali military personnel who are said to be trained in Ethiopia on Sunday.

Ethiopian troops seized the family of a wanted man, who they accuse of having links with Al-Shabab insurgents, Reuters reported. Residents said troops went to El Barde and Yeed on Saturday seeking the man.

“The man escaped, but they took with them his wife and three children. They also took the escaped man’s brother and family. The troops have now gone but I understand they are in the outskirts of the town,” a town resident, Hussein Ronow, told Reuters.

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Another residents in the Sariirale, a town on the Ethiopian-Somali border said that hundreds of Ethiopian troops have entered the town as well searching houses.

Ethiopian officials could not be reached for comment but Ethiopia denies frequently that it’s troops are on Somali soil.

Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 to help oust Islamist forces from the capital Mogadishu but withdrew under a UN-backed peace deal.

Ethiopia already made it clear that did still reserve the right to intervene in Somalia if it’s interests were directly threatened. Somali government has not commented about the latest development in the war-torn nation.

Muhudin Ahmed Roble
Somalilandpress, 8 February 2010