Ethiopia: Foreigners Warned to Stay Away


August 10, 2007: Weapons supplied by Eritrea continue to crop up in arsenals of Somali Islamic terrorists. One of the militias supported by the Somalia Islamic Courts has received SA-18 shoulder-fired surface to air missiles (SAMs) via Eritrea. The SA-18 is a Russian designed weapon. Eritrea denied the reports. The Islamic Courts appear to have received other weapons and explosives (including explosive belts for suicide bombers) from Eritrean sources.

August 8, 2007: The Ethiopian government said that "offensive actions" by its military and security forces in the last two months had killed 502 rebels in the Ogaden region. Around 170 rebels had been captured. Ethiopia usually refers to the rebels as "terrorists." The offensive was launched after an an attack in April by ONLF forces that killed 74. Rebels accuse the Ethiopian government of committing 2,395 "extrajudicial killings" (ie, death squad murders) in the Ogaden since 1991.

August 7, 2007: The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) warned foreign firms to not engage in oil and natural gas exploration in the Ogaden. The ONLF rebels believe exploration activities aided "war crimes" being committed against the people of the Ogaden (crimes presumably committed by the Ethiopian military). Most people in the Ogaden are Somali.

July 30, 2007: The UN extended the mandate for UNMEE (UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea) for another six months. The UN also called on Eritrea to withdraw troops from the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). Apparently Eritrea has kept a contingent of troops in the TSZ since early last fall. While the Eritrean force was originally believed to be 10,000 troops, subsequent reports put the figure at 1500 to 2000 (a regiment or brigade). Still, it is a violation of the neutral zone. The UN also called on Ethiopia to withdraw forces it has deployed near the TSZ.

July 29, 2007: The Ethiopian government is trying to find ways to "de-conflict" brewing trouble as nomadic and pastoral tribes confront drought conditions. Some of the trouble in the Ogaden desert region stems from fights over water holes and pasture land. Also, sedentary farmers complain about pastoralists grazing their herds on farmland.

July 24, 2007: The Ethiopian government told the Red Cross it would have to pull its aid teams out of the Ogaden region. Ethiopia accused the Red Cross of "interfering with the political situation" in Ogaden. Essentially the Ethiopian government accused the Red Cross of aiding Ogaden rebel groups. The Red Cross claims its aid teams have been working on water and sanitation projects in the region.


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