Addis Ababa, September 01/2017 – Intense fighting between the Ethiopian Somali and the Oromo ethnic groups in the eastern Ethiopia has left “more than 30 people”, including “more than a dozen army members”, dead and several others injured, Addis Standard learned.
According to three residents of Mieso town, west Hararghe zone, who contacted Addis Standard late this evening, today’s fighting in and around the town was between several members of local residents and heavily armed members of the “Liyu Police”. “We couldn’t take the killings our men, the raping of our girls and the lootings of our cattle by bandits openly supported by the Liyu Police,” wrote Abdulatif Kererro, a resident of the town in his message. A similar attack has left seven civilians dead last week in Chinakson in east Hararghe and its environs.
The conflict has been going on for several months now. The local say it is aggravated by the presence of members of Ethiopia’s notorious police force, “Liyu Police,” a special paramilitary elite force accused of its close connection to Abdi Mohamoud Omar, president of the Somali regional state in eastern Ethiopia. Members of the “Liyu Police” are often accused of looting, rape and extrajudicial killings of civilians ever since their establishment in April 2007.
Last week, a group of elders who traveled from East Hararghe Zone, Gursum Woreda of the Oromia Regional State to the capital Addis Abeba have called for an end to the “Liyu police anarchy”.
In march 2017 weeks-long cross border incursions by armed militiamen that local say were members of “Liyu Police” into many localities in eastern and southern part of the Oromia regional state, (bordering the Ethiopian Somali regional state in eastern and south eastern Ethiopia) had left more than 100 civilians dead.
It is not clear what trigged the latest conflict. But the Oromia regional state bureau head Addisu blamed the reasons for March’s conflict as “border expansion” and “economic” in nature. The clashes happened after incursions by “armed men” from the Somali regional state into towns and villages administratively under the Oromia regional state.
In April 2017, following several attacks by Liyu police, Abdi Mohamud Omar and Lemma Megerssa, presidents of Somali and Oromia regional states respectively, have signed an agreement to end “border hostilities”. On August 19, the Oromia regional state said that as part of that agreement, of the 68 contested villages between the two regions, 48 have been returned to be under the administration of the Oromia regional state. But the deal doesn’t not seem to hold water.
Today’s heavy clash subsided late this afternoon after the “members of the federal army arrived in the scene”, according to Abdulatif, “but we are not going sit back and see this happen again,” he wrote.