Monday August 13, 2018
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, Aug 13 (Reuters) - At least 40
people were killed by paramilitary forces in eastern Ethiopia over the
weekend, a senior regional official said on Monday, in the latest spate
of violence driven by ethnic divisions.
Unrest first broke out
along the border of the country’s Somali and Oromiya provinces in
September, displacing nearly a million people, though the violence had
subsided by April.
On Monday, the Oromiya regional
administration’s spokesman Negeri Lencho said heavily armed members of a
paramilitary force from the Somali region had carried out cross-border
attacks in Oromiya’s East Hararghe district. “We still do not
know why Liyu forces raided the areas on Saturday and Sunday,” he said,
referring to the paramilitary soldiers. “But we know that all the
victims were ethnic Oromos. At least 40 were killed in the attacks.”
week earlier, mobs looted properties owned by ethnic minorities in the
Somali region’s capital Jijiga. The central government said the unrest
had been stoked by regional officials who had fallen out with central
authorities trying to address rights abuses in the region.
The spokesman said the officials had said the government was
illegally forcing them to resign, and that Liyu forces had taken part in
the attacks under their orders.
The forces are seen as loyal to the region’s leader Abdi Mohammed Omer, who has since resigned.
Authorities in the Somali region were not immediately available for comment.
violence has spread in the diverse country of 100 million people, where
anti-government protests broke out in the Oromiya region over land
rights in 2015. Hundreds were killed by security forces over a two-year
The violence is the biggest domestic challenge facing reformist prime minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April.
a separate incident, a stampede among thousands who attended a visit by
a prominent political activist in the town of Shashemene killed three
people on Sunday, officials from the Oromiya regional government said.
event was held to mark the return to Ethiopia of Jawar Mohammed, an
activist who had been in exile in the United States but played a key
role in mobilising Oromo youths through social media.
chaos, another person was beaten to death by a mob after rumours
circulated he had carried a bomb, residents said. “Police did not take
action while all that took place,” the witness told Reuters. “It is an
example of the lawlessness that is taking root in the country.” (Editing
by David Holmes)