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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 20:44 GMT 21:44 UK
Ethiopian troops 'in Somalia'
Ethiopian troops are reported to have crossed the border into Somalia to help militias fighting the Somali Government.

Eyewitnesses who fled across the border to Kenya together with hundreds of others, told the BBC that at least two people were killed and four injured when Ethiopian soldiers attacked the border town of Bulo Hawo early on Wednesday.

Ethiopian soldier
Ethiopian troops make frequent incursions over the Somali border
Kenya, which had given the Somali refugees in Mandera until Wednesday to go home, has told the BBC it will set up a temporary camp for the thousands of refugees.

Bulo Hawo is now once again controlled by the militias of the Somali Reconstruction and Restoration Council, a coalition of opposition warlords backed by Ethiopia.


Ten days ago, the SRRC had lost the town to the forces of Colonel Abdirizak Issak Bihi.

Colonel Bihi has reportedly been captured unhurt by the Ethiopian forces and taken across the border to Ethiopia.

The exchange of gunfire and the noise of the shelling in Bulo Hawo could be heard in Mandera.

More than 10,000 Somali refugees have already found refuge in the Kenyan border town from the fighting in Gedo.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has agreed with the Kenyan Government to feed the refugees by Friday.

But in the longer term, the Kenyan government would like the Somali refugees to go home.

It says the refugees are not safe in Mandera, near the border - three were injured by stray bullets during Wednesday's attack.

Ethiopian interference

The government hopes many refugees will return to Bulo Hawo now that it is once again under the control of the SRRC.

For those who wish to stay, it is considering setting up more permanent camps away from the border.

Ethiopian troops have been crossing into Somalia since 1996 to supply militias in the border regions of Gedo and Puntland with arms.

Only last week, with the help of the Ethiopian army, Colonel Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed retook control of Puntland by ousting his rival, Jama Ali Jama.

The Transitional National Government of Somalia, based in Mogadishu, has repeatedly accused Ethiopia of interfering in Somalia's internal affairs and has asked the Ethiopian Government to refrain from such activities.

The president of Somalia, Abdulkassim Hassan Salat, said last week that his government would not attend any reconciliation conference if Ethiopia was involved in any way.

Ismail Haji Warsame talking to BBC Network Africa
"Abdullahi Yusuf is in full control of Puntland"
See also:

23 Nov 01 | Africa
Somali leader promises battle
21 Nov 01 | Africa
Fierce fighting in Puntland
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