Ethiopian Rebels Say Clashes Kill 140 Militia, Government Troops
Friday February 20th, 2009
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP)--Clashes have broken out in the restive Ethiopian region of Ogaden, with rebels saying Friday they have killed 140 government troops and allied militia fighters.
The Ethiopian government disputed the claims from the Ogaden National Liberation Front, or ONLF, saying some 40 rebels were killed by local clan militia.
"The casualty figures heavily favored our forces due to the nature of our operations," the rebels said in a statement, adding that lost 29 fighters. "In particular, surprise attacks and ambushing enemy military convoys."
Communications Minister Bereket Simon told AFP the insurgents "clashed with some of the clan inside Ogaden and the clans have beaten them well."
The ONLF is fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia's oil-rich Ogaden region. They say the local people have been marginalized by Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia's military launched an offensive against ONLF after they attacked a Chinese-run oil venture in the Ogaden in 2007, killing 77 people, including nine Chinese nationals.