Home | News    Sunday 24 April 2005

Ethiopian rebels claim victory over government forces in southeast

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ADDIS ABABA, Apr 23, 2003 (Sudan Tribune) — Reports from Ogadenia in southeastern Ethiopia say that on 13 April Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) units, who had been training at Sayid Abdiweli camp for some time, launched a major military operation codenamed Operation Mandad aimed at weakening Ethiopian government forces in Korahey and Dolo districts.

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Ethiopian army soldiers

According to the Ethiopian opposition Radio Freedom, the units, in coordination with regular ONLF forces operating in the two districts, have scored victories in battles against Ethiopian forces.

Regular forces stationed in Laso Ano and Shilabo had tried to foil Operation Mandad after learning through intelligence and collaborators of its coming. ONLF units and Ethiopians forces on 15 April fought at Alen and Garas Qalo’. Two Ethiopian army Ural trucks were destroyed in the battles and over 60 soldiers were killed.

Following the fighting, Ethiopian forces imposed curfews on Kebri Dehar, Warder, and Shilabo towns. On 20 April people were refused permission to leave or enter Kebri Dehar. Movement of vehicular and animal traffic, such as camels used by nomads for transportation, were also banned.

Ethiopian forces called in reinforcements from Gode and Jijiga cities.

Reports say that Operation Mandad is still continuing in various locations. Reports say that regular forces were regrouping in Fafan valley and in areas between El Ogaden, Kebri Dehar, and Warder.

Ethiopian forces, having suffered a severe military blow, as usual vented their anger on local people, detaining many civilians accusing them of supporting ONLF fighters.

The Somali State administration was put on high alert. The operation has also struck fear into Ethiopian forces, which have now called for quick reinforcements.

Somalis living in Ogadenia were very pleased with Operation Mandad. There are two categories of people living in Ogadenia: One section of the population is happy and clandestinely congratulating each other about the operation; and the other section is the weyane forces and their supporters who are sorrowful and terrified, the radio said.

The Ethiopian authorities accused today Eritrea of training ONLF rebels. It also claimed killing 41 rebels and detained 36 insurgents.

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