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US calls for probe into Ethiopia ethnic clashes

The United States on Tuesday urged Ethiopia to investigate deadly clashes between two of the country’s major ethnic groups that have caused tens of thousands to flee.

wire 1372837 1505837802Fighting broke out in recent weeks along the border between the Oromia and Somali regions, which Oromia president Lemma Megersa said earlier this week led to “brutal killings” and the displacement of 50,000 people.

Details of what started the fighting remain unclear, but the US embassy in the capital Addis Ababa said it had received “troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people”.

“We urge the Ethiopian government to conduct a transparent investigation into all allegations of violence and to hold those responsible accountable,” the embassy said in a statement.

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported that the military has been deployed to quell the unrest, and 200 people accused of participating in the violence have been arrested.

Ethiopia is divided into ethnically-based federal regions, and the Oromo and Somali people have for years argued over who controls arable lands located along their shared border.

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Leaders of the two regions signed an agreement in April to resolve the boundary dispute, ENA reported.

At a press conference on Sunday, Megersa blamed “individuals” for the latest bloodshed.

“This situation is very dangerous for the country, so we have to stop it and bring back peace and stability,” Megersa said.

Oromia was rocked by months of anti-government protests that started in 2015 and left more than 940 people dead.

The clashes led to the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency in October 2016 that was repealed last month.

Somali has its own challenges, particularly failed rains that have plunged swaths of the region into drought.

Ethiopia’s government and the United Nations announced in August that 8.5 million people were in need of food aid because of the drought, up from an estimated 7.8 million in April.

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