Observer on Saturday - - News -

Thou­sands of Ethiopian troops have crossed into So­ma­lia to join a large-scale of­fen­sive against alShabaab ex­trem­ists just weeks af­ter So­ma­lia's worst at­tack left more than 350 peo­ple dead, bor­der res­i­dents said on Thurs­day.

So­ma­lia's pres­i­dent, vow­ing a "state of war," has vis­ited coun­tries in the re­gion to seek more mil­i­tary sup­port since the mas­sive truck bomb­ing on Oc­to­ber 14 in the cap­i­tal, Mo­gadishu.

So­ma­lia is pre­par­ing for an of­fen­sive with African Union multi­na­tional forces that is meant


to push al-Shabaab fight­ers out of their strongholds in Lower Sha­belle and Mid­dle Sha­belle re­gions, where many deadly at­tacks on Mo­gadishu and So­mali and African Union bases have been launched.

So­mali of­fi­cials have said the United States mil­i­tary, which this year has stepped up the fight against al-Shabaab with well over a dozen drone strikes, is ex­pected to play a sup­port­ing role. Ab­dul­lahi Yusuf, an elder in Luq town, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Ethiopian troops in tanks and ar­moured ve­hi­cles passed through on Thurs­day morn­ing to­ward south­west­ern So­ma­lia. Muhummed Muse, a res­i­dent of Dolow town, also said dozens of ar­moured ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing Ethiopian troops had passed through. Ethiopia's For­eign Min­is­ter, Workineh Ge­beyehu, con­firmed that troops had en­tered So­ma­lia. "It is a rou­tine or nor­mal mil­i­tary ac­tiv­ity of the Ethiopian con­tin­gent based in So­ma­lia to sup­port the fight against ter­ror­ism," a for­eign min­istry spokesper­son, Me­les Alem, told Al-Shabaab in some cases con­trols vil­lages just dozens of miles out­side Mo­gadishu.

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