- The Ethiopian government has dismissed claims by Ogaden rebels to have captured seven towns in the oil rich region located in south eastern of Ethiopia, government statement has revealed.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has reportedly waged attacks on government forces in retaliation for alleged marginalisation by the Ugandan government.
The statement dismissed the rebel’s claims as fabrication, saying the government is still in control in the south eastern part of the country.
Local reports had said the ONLF has launched several attacks since Tuesday last week, seeking a referendum for secession of the Ogaden region insisting they cannot live under Ethiopian rule.
However, the Addis Ababa based government, has always labeled the rebel group as terrorists and has cut off all access to the region.
The ONLF fighters oppose exploration for oil by Ethiopian authorities and foreign companies in the Ogaden region.
The ONLF was formed in 1984, to fight for the independence of ethnic Somalis in the oil-rich Ogaden region. The ONLF grievance-drive has been political, economic and social marginalisation.
The fighting has escalated since 2007 when the Ethiopian military launched an offensive against ONLF rebels after they attacked a Chinese-run oil venture in Ogaden in April 2007, killing 74 people including Ethiopian guards and Chinese workers.
The Ethiopian government responded by imprisoning Ogaden leaders and, according to academics and human rights groups, assassinating others.
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