The troops’ new announcement runs counter to Zenawi’s promises of withdrawal.
Somali-based Ethiopian forces have vowed to fight with Somali fighters calling Premier Meles Zenawi’s promises of withdrawal into question.
Local residents in the outskirts of the southern Somali town of Baidoa began to flee as they found out about the new decision by the troops who had poured into the town in their thousands, said one Press TV correspondent.
Last month, the Ethiopian prime minister had said the soldiers were to give up on Somalia ‘urgently’ after two years of unsuccessful attempt at strengthening the country’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) with a specific view to contain the country’s insurgency.
Somalia has been in an ongoing state of upheaval since 1988 when a civil war broke out and warlords ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, bolstered by US-backed Ethiopian troops, has been embroiled in bitter conflict with the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and other anti-government groups including the al-Shabaab fighters that form the armed wing of the UIC.
Al-Shabaab came to existence after the Ethiopian surge in 2006 contributed to the TFG’s deposition of the popular UIC.
The fighters from both groups, meanwhile, were reported to be preparing for what seemed to be a pincer attack on the Ethiopians. The first contingent of the fighters who was dispatched for the purpose was said to be comprised of around 9,000 gunmen.