Fighting breaks out in Sitti, Ethiopia’s Somali area, amid tensions

NAIROBI, Kenya – Ethnic and political skirmishes in Ethiopia have taken on another dimension, after Tuesday’s clashes in the town of GarbaIssa in the Somali region, something could further hamper peacemaking processes in the Horn of Africa nation .

According to reports from the BBC Somali Service, fighting broke out in the town of the Sitti zone of the Somali region between herders and militias from the Afar region. The battle comes a day after the Somali regional state said it would protect its residents of the city on the road from Ethiopia to Djibouti.

The road is increasingly threatened by several groups, including the elite of the Tigray Defense Forces [TDF], which targets the rail and road link to Djibouti. It is the road connecting Ethiopia and Djibouti, where Ethiopia uses it for imports and exports.

The Ethiopian government has yet to comment on the latest clashes, which could deal a blow to the Ethiopian prime minister, whose troops are at war with TDF, after months of clashes in the Tigray region.

The TDF are also at loggerheads with Amhara regional forces and Somali regional forces, which have reportedly traveled to neighboring towns in Tigray ready to confront the TDF. The forces of the Somali region, like the regional troops of Amhara, are supporting the federal army.

Before the chaos on Tuesday, several sources suggested to Axadlethat dozens of civilians were killed in the town of GarbaIssa, in the western area of ​​Sitti, in the Somali region of Ethiopia, by the heavily armed special police forces. of Afar Regional State.

At least hundreds of people have been killed and two thousand others have been displaced. Over the past three years, residents of the region have faced massacres from the same period. It is not known why Afar troops attack the local Somali population in Ethiopia, but ethnic clashes are now becoming commonplace in Ethiopia.

This time, however, it is more devastating due to TDF activities in the neighboring Afar region, where the Prosperity Party-led government fears local Somali civilians will support them. Somali civilians are said to be concerned about the ENDF attacks on TDF.

Already, TDF has made it clear that it will prosecute Amhara regional forces and ENDF troops accused of carrying out a massacre in Tigray. Authorities in Addis Ababa have also issued statements signaling the end of the ceasefire in Tigray, where TDF has since taken over many towns.

Earlier Tuesday in Ethiopia, thousands of Addis Ababa residents, patriots, veterans and senior government officials bid farewell to recruits from all of the capital’s sub-cities joining the military. national government in the midst of the looming conflict in Tigray.

It is, however, an indication that the ENDF, which had considerably lost several territories in Tigray, could return to the secessionist region for other operations. The UN has repeatedly called for a ceasefire, but Ethiopia and TDF have yet to negotiate.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, has struggled to restore peace to Ethiopia, despite early glimpses of his nationalism. He is accused of targeting Ethiopians living in Tigray and other opposition territories.


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