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
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.