MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia's weak transitional government briefly detained two radio journalists Sunday for reporting that Ethiopian troops had entered Somalia, a station official said.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
But the government is based in Baidoa, 155 miles northwest of Mogadishu while an Islamic militia of the Islamic Courts Union controls Somalia's capital. The militia seized Mogadishu on June 6 after months of fighting with an alliance of warlords backed by the United States.
Ethiopians were key power brokers in forming the transitional government in 2004. Yusuf, a former warlord, had asked for Ethiopian troops to back up his government. Ethiopia has intervened in Somalia in the past to prevent Islamic extremists from taking power.
The government reacted swiftly to reports on Shabelle Radio Saturday and Sunday that 300 Ethiopian soldiers had entered the country, detaining and holding two journalists of the station for about eight hours.
Station director Abdimalik Yusuf, no relation to the president, told The Associated Press the journalists were released after he appealed to the government.
An Ethiopian official denied troops had entered Somalia but said his government had massed troops along the border and was monitoring the Islamic militants' advance across the country.
On Saturday, an Islamic Courts Union spokesman said the last two main warlords who lost the Somali capital to the militia fled aboard a U.S. warship after they were picked up late Friday from a boat.
But Cmdr. Jeff Breslau of U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, said Sunday: "There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Somali warlords were ever on U.S. warships."
In developments Saturday:
• Militia leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said he promised not to attack the weak government that represented his only challenge, but repeated his objection to the deployment of African Union peacekeepers that Yusuf's government has requested.
• In Addis Ababa, a senior African Union official, El Ghassim Wane, said the organization's Peace and Security Council will meet Monday to decide the details of a peacekeeping mission.
• Yusuf, president of the transitional authority, said he was willing to hold talks with the Islamic Courts Union if they agree to mediation by Yemen. He said they must stop their advance and agree not to enter any more towns, and they must recognize the legitimacy of the government and the constitution.