Clashes broke out between local police and federal troops in Ethiopia’s Somali region on Saturday 4th August, AP reported.
The federal and regional government officials were not available for comment to explain what triggered the clashes. Ethiopia’s Defence Ministry confirmed the deployment of troops in Jigjiga, the capital of the region.
The reason behind the deployment of the troops remains unknown. Reuters has quoted witnesses claiming that government soldiers were trying to arrest officials in the regional administration.
Witnesses have told Reuters that mobs have looted shops and destroyed public and private property with the aid of the regional security forces. One witness said non-Somali residents were being specifically targeted. Two Orthodox churches were burnt in Jigjiga.
Ethiopia’s Somali region has been troubled since 1984, as the rebel group Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has been fighting for the secession of the region. Clashes with the neighbouring Oromiya region have displaced tens of thousands of people since 2017.
ONLF said in a statement that the deployment of troops is an attack by the regional administration and called on Ethiopia’s PM to withdraw the military from the region.
The federal government has accused regional officials of perpetrating human rights violations. Human Rights Watch has accused the regional police force of carrying out torture.