Ethiopian troops to stay in Somalia

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said yesterday he would keep his troops in neighbouring Somalia until the "jihadists" were defeated.

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said yesterday he would keep his troops in neighbouring Somalia until the "jihadists" were defeated.

In a move supported by the US, Meles sent thousands of troops into Somalia in 2006 to help the nation's struggling government topple an Islamist movement that had captured most of the south.

Since then, allied Ethiopian-Somali troops have faced near-daily attacks.

Meles told parliament: "When we exit from Somalia, it will be at a time when we are convinced that there is no imminent danger to our country,"

Ethiopians are anxious about the financial and human cost of their intervention.

Ethiopia and the US say Somali insurgents have links to al Qaeda.

"Ethiopian forces did not enter Somalia to control the country, but to make sure that extremist forces will not be in power in that country," Meles said.

"The Islamic Courts Union in Somalia declared jihad against Ethiopia twice along with all sorts of anti-peace forces ...

"So it was our responsibility to resolve the huge wave of jihadists."

Meles and US officials say foreign militants have poured into Somalia to join the conflict.

The Ethiopian leader did not mention the blast that killed five people on Tuesday in Addis Ababa. - Reuters

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