Hundreds of Ethiopian troops have gathered along the common frontier with Somalia where Al- Shabaab rebels are in control, residents said Saturday.
Residents in the central Somali town of Beledweyne in Hiran province along the border with Ethiopia said that there have been visible increase in the Ethiopian troops at the border and that rebel fighters in the towns near the border getting ready for possible incursion.
"We still don't have troops over the border yet but many trucks full of troops arrived at the border and the fighters here are preparing for any eventuality," Daahir Adde, an elder in Beledweyne told Xinhua by phone.
Reporters from other area in the central Somalia provinces said that troops from Somalia's neighboring Ethiopia were seen along the common frontiers of the two countries and that rebel fighters' battle wagons were seen heading towards the frontier.
This news comes as joint military operations is being undertaken by Kenyan and Somali troops against the rebel militants in the southern provinces after the two countries accused the Al - Shabaab of being behind a wave of abductions of foreigners.
Ethiopian troops have withdrawn from Somalia in 2009 after two years of presence during which they fought with insurgency led by the radical Islamist group of Al-Shabaab.
The group has been successfully driven out of the Somali capital Mogadishu following a major offensive by Somali government forces backed by African Union peacekeeping troops based in the capital.
The Al-Shabaab fighters currently control much of the south and center of the wear ravaged horn of African nation while internationally recognized Somali government runs only the capital and few parts in the south of the country.