Ethiopia has denied allegations of incursions and torture in Somalia by a group of Somali warlords.
On Sunday, Somali faction leaders Ali Mahdi Mohamed, Hussein Mohamed Aidid and Omar Haji Masale presented a united front by sending a protest letter to the UN Security Council, asking that action be taken against the Ethiopian government for its "unprovoked incursions into Somalia". Media sources in Mogadishu noted this was the first time Somalia had issued a
"national protest", since the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
The Somali statement claimed that Ethiopian forces had forcibly occupied the towns of Beled-Hawo and Dolo in the southwestern Gedo Region last week, taking over the local administration and arresting all the Somali administrative and security personnel.
However, Ethiopia rejected the accusations as "unfounded". A government statement on Monday acknowledged Ethiopia had detained Somali nationals "caught smuggling explosives into Ethiopia", but dismissed allegations of "heavily-armed" Ethiopian soldiers entering Somalia.
A spokesman for the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi, quoted by AFP, on Tuesday further dismissed accusations by Masale that Ethiopia had tortured Somalis captured inside southern Somalia. These were "unfounded lies intended to mislead international public opinion", he said.
In another development, faction leader Hussein Aidid said his militia killed three Somali men allegedly hired by Ethiopia to abduct Oromo leaders residing in Mogadishu, media sources in the Somali capital told IRIN.
Aidid said his faction had provided a "safe haven" for Oromos who have been refugees in Somalia since the 1970s. These included a small group who were "politically organised", he added.
Mengistu Ayalew at the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi told IRIN on Tuesday that his government has "no agents" in Somalia and does not make these kinds of incursions.
"The Oromo Liberation Front, as a terrorist organisation, has been gaining some support from faction leaders, but we are not interested in violating the territory of Somalia", Mengistu added.
He dismissed Aidid's claims as "a continuation of the fabrications made by certain forces in Somalia who are explicitly supported by Eritrea".
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions