Ethiopia refutes rebels’ claims of military success

Ethiopia’s Ogaden rebels said on Tuesday they had killed more than 200 soldiers in a string of successful military operations, a claim promptly ridiculed by the government.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) issued a statement claiming it had “conducted 34 tactical and strategic military operations, killing 267 Ethiopian army soldiers and wounding 157” since the beginning of October.

It listed all the purported attacks with dates and locations but, in a familiar pattern of claims and denials by the two enemies, the government dismissed the emailed ONLF statement as “an internet gimmick”.

“The ONLF has disintegrated, there was no significant fire on the ground that can be validated,” government spokesperson Bereket Simon told Agence France-Presse, adding he only knew of a bulldozer driver killed near the town of Fiq.

The Ethiopian government last month signed a peace deal with a faction of the ONLF, but the rebel group’s core has rejected any truce and vowed to continue its decades-old struggle.

Since its formation in 1984, the ONLF has been fighting for the independence of the remote south-eastern Ogaden, which is populated mainly by ethnic Somalis and has been marginalised by the Addis Ababa regime. — Sapa-AFP

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