Source AP ©

Ethiopia reopened its embassy Somalia for the first time in 30 years

Ethiopia reopened its embassy in Somalia for the first time since the countries fought a war 30 years ago, strengthening the nations' ties.

Ethiopia, the region's military powerhouse, has sent troops to protect this chaotic nation's fragile government.

"The unpleasant history of lawlessness and anarchy in Somalia has ended, and the rule of law is coming back," Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said during a ceremony to open the new embassy, a freshly painted two-story building near the presidential palace.

Somalia's government had struggled to survive since forming with backing from the United Nations in 2004, and was sidelined by a radical Islamic group until Ethiopia's military intervened Dec. 24 and turned the tide.

But insurgents linked to the Islamic group, known as the Council of Islamic Courts, have launched a guerrilla war, saying the government is allowing Ethiopia to "occupy" the country. The U.S. has long accused the group of having ties to al-Qaida, which the council denies.

Also Sunday, the wife of a senior al-Qaida suspect wanted for the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa said she has been released from a military camp in Ethiopia and deported to her native Comoros.

Halima Badroudine Fazul Husseine, speaking by telephone from her home, said she and her children, ages 11, 10 and 5, had been taken into custody as they tried to flee Somalia late last year. She was held under what human rights activists say is an illegal detention program that violates international laws on deportations and the treatment of prisoners.

Ethiopia says the detentions are part of the fight against terrorism and that it has the right to defend itself.

Her husband, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, is a Comoron believed to have been given a haven by a now-ousted Somali Islamic movement and accused by the U.S. of masterminding the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed hundreds.

Husseine said she was released May 4 and had been treated well in Ethiopia.

"We were treated very well in Ethiopia. We were given food, water and were allowed to pray five times a day," she said.

Many residents of predominantly Muslim Somalia resent the presence of troops from Ethiopia, which has a large Christian population. The countries fought two wars, the last in 1977.

"Ethiopia is our enemy and this embassy only justifies the presence of its troops," said Khadija Farah, a mother of six who lives in Mogadishu.

But Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi praised the Ethiopians on Sunday.

"We first congratulate the Ethiopian government for reopening its embassy, and second we thank them for sacrificing the lives and blood of their troops, who made it possible to achieve peace," Gedi said.

Last month, the government declared victory over the insurgents, who have vowed to launch an Iraq-style guerrilla war unless the country becomes an Islamic state. Battles killed at least 1,670 people between March 12 and April 26 and drove about a fifth of Mogadishu's 2 million residents to flee for safety.

The Council of Islamic Courts ruled much of Somalia for six quiet months in 2006 before being driven from power by Somali troops and their Ethiopian allies.

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