Ethiopian special forces slaughtered over 40 civilians in a rural area of southeastern Ethiopia, according to media reports published Monday and Tuesday.
Shabelle Media Network, a Somali radio station, reported that Ethiopia’s notorious Liyu Police had killed at least 40 innocent people in the Somali Regional State, a region that is technically a part of Ethiopia but whose population is over 95% ethnic Somali Muslims.
Liyuu police of Ethiopia Zone 5 massacre over 40 residents of Gashamo— Somaliland Sun (@SomalilandSun) June 6, 2016
The Somaliland Sun, an independent newspaper in semi-autonomous Somaliland, confirmed the news, and said most of the dead were members of Ethiopia’s Isaaq clan.
Live From Mogadishu, a Twitter account run by a freelance journalist in Somalia who covers breaking news, also reported the massacre:
But the details of the alleged attack remain unverified.
Ethiopia, which is an ally of the US, has been fighting a low-level insurgency in the Somali Regional State, which is also known as Ogaden, for decades.
In 2007, 200 gunmen from the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front militia (ONLF) staged a brazen raid on a Chinese-run oil field in Ethiopia’s Somali region, killing 65 Ethiopians and a handful of Chinese citizens.
The ONLF later said that the killings were retaliation for the Ethiopian government’s having forcing nomadic farmers off their land to make way for oil drilling projects. "We have warned the Chinese government and the Ethiopian government that... they don't have a right to drill there," the group said after the attack.
The ONLF is reportedly supported by Eritrea, Ethiopia’s longtime enemy.
Ever since the 2007 oil field attack, Ethiopian security forces have cracked down on the Ogaden region. Human Rights Watch has detailed how Ethiopian forces have burned villages, executed civilians, raped, beat, arrested and tortured people in the region.
Those actions amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said in a 2008 report, and have “threatened the survival of thousands of ethnic Somali nomads.”
In 2006, the year before the oil field attack, Ethiopia had invaded Somalia with the US’s help in order to prop up a Western-backed puppet government. The invasion included a harsh crackdown on Islamists in Somalia, where many were arrested and transported back to Ethiopia to be locked up in secret prisons.
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