March 21, 2012 (LONDON) – An exiled independent Ethiopian advocacy group alleged that pro-government armed forces have this week raided a number of villages in the ethnic-Somali dominated Ogaden region.
In an email exchange, Resolve Ogaden Coalition (ROC) told Sudan Tribune that government sponsored “special police militias” attacked Gashamo district of the Dhagaxbuur region and burnt down entire villages of Galka-boodo-libaah, Dhoobo Guduud, Raqda and Adaada.
The alleged raids, which the group said systematically targeted civilians, led to the death of 12 people and injured more than 27. It said hundreds also fled the attacks.
The group called on the government in Addis Ababa to immediately disarm the Liyuu [Amharic word meaning special] Police militias and halt all hostilities and violence against the thousands of civilian population in the rebel active Ogaden region.
Government officials are not immediately available for comment over the fresh allegations.
The group further alleged that there was a similar attack on 12 February 2012 when the so called Liyuu Police opened fire on a local assembly organised by elders following the killing of a tribal elder and the district commissioner of Gunagado town.
RSO claim that 16 people were killed 20 others were wounded, and over 100 people were arbitrarily arrested and transferred to a military prison in Jijiga region.
NO INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION
Ethiopia’s Somali region is considered as war zone where government forces are fight the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a rebel group fighting for the independence of Ogaden state.
Resolve Ogaden Coalition accused the international community for paying little attention to end the crises in the oil-promising Ogaden region.
“The Gashamo Massacre is yet another incident the world chooses to ignore, the genocide taking place in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia is by far the worst crisis taking place in Africa, far worse than Darfur, Somalia, Congo, and Northern Uganda” the group’s statement said.
“The West chooses to ignore the crisis taking place in the Ogaden, simple because the Ethiopian regime led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is an ally on the global war on terror,” it added.
The ROC claimed there is no international humanitarian assistance delivered to the civilians affected by the conflict. During the two last years when the region was hit by a food shortage crisis, the Ethiopian government denied the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders from operating in the region.
Ethiopia security forces in July last year arrested two Swedish journalists who crossed in to Ethiopia along with armed members of ONLF, a separatist movement blacklisted by Addis Ababa as a terrorist organisation. Last December an Ethiopian court passed sentences of 11 years to each after finding them guilty of backing the banned rebel group and for illegally entering the Horn of Africa state
ROC urged the international community to pressure the Ethiopian government to immediately end the media blockade and to allow humanitarian and economic access to the region.
Currently there are dozens of foreign oil firms hunting for oil in the restive region despite attacks and threats of attack from the Ogaden rebels.