Scores of Ethiopian troops flee Somalia to Yemen: report

Sana'a - Scores of Ethiopian army troops have arrived off the coast of Yemen onboard two boats belonging to smugglers after they fled fighting with Islamic insurgents in Somalia, a press report said on Tuesday.
Some 89 Ethiopian soldiers arrived in the Arqa area in southern Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden from Bosaso city in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northeast Somalia, the al-Ayyam daily newspaper said in a report on its website.
The paper said 49 Somali refugees were aboard the boats that carried the soldiers, who were wearing civilian clothes.
An Ethiopian army officer was quoted as saying that he and his comrades had fled the ranks of Ethiopian troops in Somalia after a dramatic escalation in fierce fighting with Somali Islamic insurgents.
'I am a member of the Ethiopian army and I took part in toppling the rule of the Islamic courts (in Somalia),' said the officer, identified as Muhammad Hassan.
'We did not expect the fighting to reach this level of fiercity or that it could turn into a guerrilla war,' he said.
The officer added that many other Ethiopian troops had decided to flee Somalia after they found themselves stuck amid a 'flaming hell.'
A police official in Arqa, about 600 kilometres from Sana'a, said that 10 Ethiopian women and seven civilian men were among the group that reached the shores of Arqa on Sunday.
The official, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the soldiers were transferred by military truck to the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on Monday.
Ethiopia sent army forces into Somalia last December to back the country's interim government to drive out forces from the Union of Islamic Courts that controlled most of central and southern Somalia for nearly six months last year.

© 2007 dpa -Deutsche Presse-Agentur

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at11:58 PM


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