June 28, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rejected the claim by the website, Somaliland press, accusing the rebel group of killing several civilians in south Eastern Ethiopia, who are traders from Somaliland’s Hargesa town.
“The report by the website, Somaliland press, which claims that ONLF fighters killed several civilian traders from Hargesa, is not based on facts.” In a press release, the rebel group said that “It is a fabricated and baseless allegation”
The report by Somaliland press earlier this week said that, a group of ONLF rebels ambushed a convoy killing two Somali civilians in Ethiopia and seriously wounding several others.
The report said the victims were traders with Somaliland origins, going toward the Gashamo town in the Degehabur Zone of southeastern Ethiopia when they were attacked. The zone is bordered by the semiautonomous Somaliland region of Somalia whose clan lives along both sides of the border.
Unlike The concocted story which said that, ONLF fighters carried out the attacks because it was angry with people from Northern Somalia’s relationship with Ethiopia, ONLF regards all Somalis as brothers. The statement said.
“The Ogaden National Liberation Front regards all Somalis as brothers and does not hold any grudges against any groups from Somalia despite many transgressions by some Somali warlords against the Somali people from Ogaden and their legitimate struggle for total emancipation.”
“The Somali people in the Ogaden and the Somalis in North Somalia share a common heritage, kinship and economic ties that benefit both peoples. The reason for ONLF’s struggle is to emancipate the Somalis in Ogaden regardless of clan, believe or affiliation and there is no reason why it should target parts of its own people.” it added.
“Any entity or group trying to sow conflict and division among the Somali sub-clans in the Ogaden will fail. People with this attitude should know that this outmoded logic will benefit no one and they will be held responsible for unnecessary consequences of their machinations.” The statement further said.
According to the report by Hargesa media, this incident was not the first time the ONLF killed Somali Landers in Ethiopia.
The ONLF is a grassroots social and political movement founded in 1984 by the Somali people of Ogaden. The organization wants a referendum for separation of the Ogaden region from Ethiopia.
Ethiopia considers the rebel group as a terrorist organization.
The ONLF fighters oppose exploration for Oil by Ethiopian authorities and foreign companies in the Ogaden region. In 2007 ONLF attacked an oil venture and killed 74 Ethiopian and Chinese Oil workers
The group has also been accused by local Somalis of laying mines, burning villages, attacking development projects and intimidating Somalis who do not support its cause.
The London-based ONLF leadership has in turn accused Ethiopian authorities of detaining civilians, threatening rebel sympathizers, blocking food aid and committing war crimes in the region.
Recently the resistance group has warned all international Oil corporations, including the Malaysian Petronas company, from making any deals with Addis Ababa.
ONLF recently blamed multinational oil corporations for allegedly financing criminal activities in the Ogaden and causing a huge environmental disaster.
Since the 1990s, ONLF and the Ethiopian government were engaged in several peace talks led by local Somali elders but all the efforts have failed.