troops have opened fire, killing five civilians, after a land mine attack
on their convoy in the town of Beledweyne in central Somalia.
Troops fired in all directions after the mine
struck a water tanker, the convoy’s last vehicle, witnesses said.
Ethiopian forces have been in Somalia since December at the invitation of
the transitional government, fighting Islamist insurgents and clan militias.
The Islamists are increasingly adopting guerrilla tactics in the conflict.
They have taken to using roadside bombs and landmines after they were defeated
by a major offensive in the capital, Mogadishu, last month.
African Union force
The Ethiopian convoy was heading to a base in the western part of Beledweyne,
witnesses told the BBC.
One roadside vendor, Ali Iid, said: "The troops opened fire in all directions
soon after the blast and controlled the scene for 10 minutes before they continued
"The explosion rocked the entire area. We ducked and it sent clouds of
huge smoke into the sky. I saw five people lying in the street."
A police colonel, Yusuf Aden, told the BBC the explosion was a remote-controlled
"Five people, all of them passers-by, were killed and three others who
were wounded were admitted to hospital," Col Aden said.
About 40 Somalis were detained for questioning by the Ethiopian military but
were later released.
Ethiopia says it wants to leave Somalia once the African Union peacekeeping
force there is at an effective level.
Some 1,500 Uganda soldiers have been deployed as part of the planned 8,000-strong
However, other AU nations have been wary of providing more troops.
Somalia has been without an effective national government for 16 years, controlled
by rival militias and awash with guns.