September 04, 2007

Ethiopia soldiers to stop delegates from attending opposition conference (Garowe Online)

DHUSAMAREB, Somalia Sep 4 (Garowe Online) - Ethiopian troops backing Somalia's transitional government deployed into a provincial capital Tuesday, a day after unknown gunmen attacked the town's deputy police commander, sources said.

The Ethiopian army entered Somalia in Dec. 2006
The troops entered Dhusamareb, capital of Galgadud region, Tuesday morning. A local journalist told Garowe Online that the troops and 6 armored vehicles came from Guri EL, a town further south.

Yesterday, gunmen attacked Dhusamareb's deputy police commandant. One civilian was killed in the minutes-long gun battle with police, according to the town's police chief. [ Full story]

Inside sources in Dhusamareb said the Ethiopian troops' arrival coincides with emerging reports that a group of people, including reporters, were preparing to depart from the town en route to Eritrea.

The group that includes delegates plans to participate at a "reconciliation conference" organized by opponents of the Ethiopia-backed interim government in Mogadishu.

Fearing Ethiopian arrests, the group postponed their secretive trip to Eritrea, the sources said. Ethiopian military officers met with clan elders and local government officials in Dhusamareb to discuss security arrangements.

The Somali government's opponents, who live in exile in Eritrea, condemned a UN-backed "national reconciliation conference" that concluded in Mogadishu last week.

The rival conference in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, is supposed to unite leaders of the Islamic Courts movement who were ousted from Mogadishu by the Ethiopian army last year, as well as members of the so-called "Free Parliament" composed of dissident lawmakers.

Ethiopia and Eritrea, two rivals in the Horn of Africa region, have a long-standing violent border dispute following a two-year war that ended in 2000.

Source: Garowe Online

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