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ONLF Burns Down Two Trucks Owned By Somalilanders
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Hargeisa, May 1, 2004 (SL Times) – The Ogaden National Liberation Front’s militia set to flames two trucks owned by Somalilanders at Fiq area in Ethiopia’s autonomous regional Somali state. The two vehicles, a 24 ton Nissan UD and a Hino ZY were rented to carry goods, mainly food items such a sugar, rice and oil to Fiq.

The Nissan UD was still loaded while the Hino was discharged of its load when ONLF militiamen stopped the two vehicles at a point between the two villages of Fayan Jawo and Haaro-Dhagax located near Fiq on April 25, 2004.

According to the two drivers, Abdi Mohamed Banyah and Ahmed Hussein (Jiis), the armed men drew out about 20lts of fuel from each vehicle. “Then they placed wood under and above each vehicle and set them on fire,” Ahmed Hussein said.

The armed men who identified themselves as ONLF fighters told the drivers that they were instructed by their Chairman [Mohamed Omer Osman] to burn down properties belonging to Somalilanders in retaliation of the arrest of ONLF combatants by the Somaliland government.

The Somaliland police foiled at the end of last year an operation for smuggling 34 ONLF fighters into eastern Ethiopia. Police investigations revealed that members of the group underwent military training in Eritrea as part of a wider scheme involving training of 700 – 1200 recruits. The group arrested by the Somaliland police arrived from Djibouti, and were scheduled to infiltrate into Ethiopia before they were intercepted.

The two drivers also reported that the armed militia were about to execute them when they got distracted by a young assistant driver who ran away as well as by the explosion of the two vehicles.

Meanwhile, the ONLF chairman Mohamed Omer Osman said he can’t blame his fighters if they acted violently.

In a BBC interview broadcast yesterday, Mr. Osman alleged that Ogadeni travelers in Hargeisa and Buroa have been attacked by mobs in the last 3 days. He claimed that Ogadenis who come to Somaliland either for trading or buying goods, are often mistreated. Mr. Osman also complained that many Ogadenis are languishing in Somaliland’s prisons.

In a similar interview held with Mr. Osman in December 2003, he openly encouraged his supporters to take reprisals against people of Somaliland origin in the autonomous Somali region.


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