The president of Somaliland has reportedly called on citizens to respect and welcome foreigners in the country following armed confrontations in Ethiopia’s Somali region over the weekend. Meanwhile media reports indicate that refugees are arriving in Somaliland as at this morning.
Since late Friday, an armed standoff between the Ethiopian national army and regional security forces in the country’s Somalia region has claimed nearly 30 lives according to media reports.
The violence though largely restricted to the regional capital Jijiga, is said to have left a tense atmosphere in the region. The BBC Amharic service reports that all non-Somalis in Jijiga are in hiding for fear of attacks.
Reports indicate that a wave of ethnic-based attacks that followed the confrontation led to the looting of shops and attacks on about eight churches.
The army’s action is believed to be part of a move to depose president of the region, Momamed Omar, popularly referred to as Abdi Illey. He is widely reported to be behind gross rights abuses in the state which he has been president of since 2005.
The local Addis Standard portal as at Monday morning reported that there were ongoing talks between federal and regional authorities to resolve the impasse. “The talks involve both regional & federal administrative, military, security & intelligence authorities,” the portal added.
Ethiopia’s Somali region has been plagued by violence for the last two decades. The government has fought the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) since 1984 after the group launched its bid for secession of the region, also known as Ogaden.
Since 2017, clashes along the province’s border with the Oromiya region have displaced tens of thousands of people.
The region’s officials have recently been accused by the government in Addis Ababa of perpetrating rights abuses. Last month, Ethiopia fired senior prison officials there after details emerged of torture and other abuses in one notorious prison.