Ethiopia: government launches “pogrom” against Ogaden villagers

Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels issued a statement May 19 charging that the army has opened an offensive that is targetting civilians in the ethnically Somali region in the country’s east (see map). ONLF spokesman Abdirahman Mahdi accused Ethiopian security forces of attacking villages near oil exploration sites in the Ogaden, which borders Somalia and has been the scene of a low-level insurgency since the early 1990s. “It is a random killing aimed at terrorizing the public,” Mahdi said from his office in London. “This is the first time security forces turned up in villages, rounded up villagers and killed them in brutal manners.” The statement called the attacks, centered around the towns of Nogob (Fik, by its official Ethiopian designation) and Jarar (Degahbur), a “pogrom,” with at least 100 dead in recent days, and demanded an immediate UN investigation. Mohamed Gure, information minister for the Somali state government, called the claims “baseless propaganda.” (AP, Ogaden Online, May 19)

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