Addis Abeba – Fresh clashes between communities living along border areas of Oromia and Somali regions in Eastern Ethiopia have claimed lives and left several civilians injured, residents and a doctor from the Somali side told Addis Standard.
According to a resident who spoke to Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity, seven people have been killed and 14 others seriously injured since last Tuesday following clashes between communities residing in adjacent districts of Tulu Guled in Somali region and Chinaksan in Oromia region.
The resident claims that the clashes erupted after Makanis village which he says was located in the Tulu Guled district of Fafan zone of the Somali region was incorporated into the Makanis Oromo district, which was established after the Chinaksan district was split into two under the recent restructuring of cities, districts and zones by the Oromia regional government.
The clashes have been ongoing since Tuesday, 14 March in Makanis, Uswayne and Sandacare villages according to the resident, leaving 7 dead and 14 injured. The injured are currently undergoing treatments at Jijiga hospital, he added.
A physician at the Sheik Hassen Yabare Referral Hospital in Jigjiga who asked no to be named told Addis Standard that two dead bodies and eight injured people have been brought to the hospital since Tuesday.
The resident accused Oromia region special forces and local militias of having been involved in the clashes in support of communities from the Oromia region, while complaining failure by the Somali region security forces to take actions.
Hailu Adugna, head of the Oromia Communication Bureau, however dismissed both allegations of the incorporation of a Somali village into Oromia region and the involvement of the regional government’s security forces in the clashes.
“No area was taken from the Somali region and incorporated into Oromia under the new restructuring” Hailu told Addis Standard, adding that, “no armed attack was launched on the Somali communities by the Oromia regional government security forces”.
Hailu said splitting the vast Chinaksan district into two was necessitated to improve service provision and development needs of the local communities, and it is within the mandate of the regional government to do so.
Following the announcement of the restructuring by Oromia regional government little over two weeks ago, opposition party Congress for Somali Cause (CSC) released a statement on 10 March condemning the Oromia region of converting a “small kebele called Makanisa inside the Somali Regional State into a district with the intent of illegally expanding the scope of this kebele by swallowing Somali villages around it and to have a direct corridor to the border of Somalia”.
It also accused the Oromia region of illegally constructing a 400 million-birr dam on Somali territory without any consultation with the elected officials from the region.
In January, Addis Standard reported that at least three civilians were killed and 12 more were severely injured following clashes that flared when workers who are commissioned by the government of Oromia region started executing construction of a dam in the border area of Marar Kebele, which the residents say is located inside Tulu Guled district of Fafan zone in the Somali regional state.
Hailu Adunga however, dismissed claims of illegal incorporation of Somali villages into the Oromia region, and said the complaints are for “political consumption and propaganda.”
Addis Standard’s attempts to get comment from the Somali region communication Bureau were unsuccessful. AS