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Interethnic clashes in Eastern Ethiopia

· Several Orthodox priests among the dead, while thousands of civilians flee ·

Incidents of violence and attacks in the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia caused civilian casualties and forced many to flee, over the weekend. This announcement was made by the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abuna Mathias.

The first episodes of violence were reported on Saturday after forces belonging to the Ethiopian federal government entered the regional capital city of Jigjiga, seeking to contain armed members of the local paramilitary forces of Somalian ethnicity, known as the Liyu police. Their presence set off tensions with the Somali population, and clashes broke out between the different ethnic groups living in the region.

The American Embassy in Addis Ababa reported that “during last weekend, the Ethiopian military took control of the most important roads, public buildings, and Jigjiga airport”. The city’s inhabitants confirmed to France-Pressethat protestors hurled abuse at banks and shops, and even attacked several individuals who were not of Somali ethnicity.

Speaking with Fanabc , the Patriarch reported that seven churches were set on fire and an unspecified number of priests was killed in the attacks, which displaced thousands.

According to Ogaden National Liberation Front, the fight to “liberate” the Somali region, had resulted in “loss of life”, as of yet unconfirmed by official sources. The movement asked Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to cease all military operations and to launch a dialogue of peace.

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Aug. 21, 2018

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