Ethiopian forces deployed in parts of Somalia will soon be dispatched to the southern port of Kismayo, some 500km south of the capital Mogadishu, reliable sources tell Garowe Online.
A coalition of clan fighters and Islamist guerrillas captured Kismayo in August after defeating clan militia loyal to a warlord Col. Barre Hirale, a member of the Somali parliament.
Hirale fled to Gedo region, where he has been busy persuading members of his Marehan clan for military support to retake Kismayo.
But government sources now tell Garowe Online that the Ethiopian army will aid Hirale’s clan militia in an organized attack on Kismayo.
Ethiopian officials reportedly attempted to reconcile Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf and MP Hirale, who have been at odds for years, but failed after the Somali leader rejected the offer, according to the sources.
“The Ethiopians want to help Hirale attack Kismayo, but [President] Abdullahi Yusuf opposed the idea,” said the confidential source.
Kismayo, the capital of Lower Jubba region, is Somalia’s third-largest city after Mogadishu in the south and Hargeisa in the north.
Peace and tranquity has returned to Kismayo in recent weeks, although local residents now say they are anxious about renewed warfare in a city that has endured endless battles since the early 1990s.