Sunday August 5, 2018
On Friday evening, Ethiopian troops entered the regional capital Jijiga in an apparent attempt by central authorities to arrest regional officials, residents said.
Reports from Jigjiga say supporters of the regional president Abdi
Mohamoud Omar have taken to the streets as Federal Ethiopian troops
control key installations. Situation is said to be very tense. Photo: Harun Maruf/ TWITTER
ADDIS ABABA -
Mobs looted shops and burned down properties in Ethiopia’s eastern
Somali region on Saturday, as unrest gained momentum and spread across
the province following deployment of soldiers, witnesses said.
Friday evening, Ethiopian troops entered the regional capital Jijiga in
an apparent attempt by central authorities to arrest regional officials,
residents said. On Saturday soldiers traded fire with members of local
government security forces.
Violence has since broken out in at least four towns, with mobs attacking civilians and looting property, witnesses said.“Ethnic
non-Somalis are the ones being targeted. (The region’s) security forces
are collaborating with them,” one resident told Reuters.
two Ethiopian Orthodox churches have been burned down, another witness
said. Shops, hotels and banks remained closed, he added.
Residents in four other towns said gunshots were being heard.
third witness in Jijiga said government soldiers had been deployed in
the region’s administration offices with the intention of arresting
It was not immediately clear why authorities in the capital Addis Ababa sought to apprehend them.
officials in Addis Ababa and Jijiga were not immediately available for
comment, but Ethiopia’s defence ministry confirmed the deployment of
“The violence has not been halted despite attempts by
defence forces and other security forces to restore calm,” the ministry
said in a statement.
“Hence, as the region’s peace and security
has come under threat, our defence forces will not remain silent in the
face of unrest and chaos and will take necessary measures in accordance
with constitutional obligations.”
The ministry did not give reasons behind the deployment.
province has been plagued by violence for the last three decades. The
government has fought the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)
since 1984 after the group launched a bid for secession of the region,
also known as Ogaden.
Since 2017, clashes along the Somali region’s border with Oromiya province have displaced tens of thousands of people.
region’s officials have recently been accused by the government in
Addis Ababa of perpetrating rights abuses. Last month, Ethiopia fired
senior prison officials there after details emerged of torture and other
abuses in one notorious prison.
In a statement, the ONLF
criticised the deployment of federal troops, saying the government had
ordered its military “to attack and take over the Somali regional
administration ... creating chaos and uncertainty”.
calls upon the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia to halt immediately any
military activities and initiate a peaceful process,” it added,
referring to Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April.