Home | News    Tuesday 5 July 2011

Ethiopia: Army kills 15 rebels, wounds Swedish journalists

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

July 4, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia said its security forces have killed 15 members of the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) - a rebel group who has been fighting for the autonomy of the ethnic-Somali dominated Ogaden region since 1984.

According to the Somali regional government bureau of information, six others were detained while two Swedish journalists who crossed into the area via Somalia along with the rebels sustained minor injures during fire exchange in Ogaden region near the border with neighboring Somalia.

ONLF is one of the five groups Ethiopia recently designated as terror entities. Others included are Oromo Liberation Front, Ginbot 7 and two international groups, Al-shabab and Al-Qaida.

Officials said the armed ONLF members were planning to carry out a number of terrorist attacks inside Ethiopia. They were in possession of a number of weapons and communication equipment.

One of the Sweden journalists has in the past tried twice to enter to the volatile region of Ogaden, which is restricted to journalists, along with ONLF fighters but was caught by security forces and later was expelled.

In 2007, the ONLF rebel group carried-out attacks on a Chinese-run oil venture which killed 74 people including nine Chinese workers.

Following the attacks, Ethiopia launched crackdown against the guerrillas in Ogaden.

The main military operations were centered on the towns of Degehabur, Kebri Dahar, Werder and Shilavo in Ogaden, which are in the Ethiopian Somali Region. The area is home to the Ogaden clan, seen as the bedrock of support to the ONLF.

Human Rights Watch has accused both Ethiopian military and ONLF rebels committing various human rights abuses.

(ST)

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