- Ethiopia's Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLF) confirmed to have launched a major "counter-offensive military operations" against government forces on Tuesday.
The group that had earlier claimed to have rebuffed the late May offensive by Ethiopian army, said its two units from the Gorgor Command had already launched two prolonged offensive in Dhagah-Madow district. The ONLF said its attacks also led to the destruction and capture of enemy troops in several military units, including those in Wayne and Dhagah.
"Hundreds of soldiers were captured and causalities were very high," the group said in a statement, claiming to have repelled, degraded and dispersed reinforcements from Harar, Fiq and Dhagah. Having claimed to have either killed, captured or dispersed into wilderness more than 1,800 government soldiers, the ONLF said it is now "in hot pursuit of the remnants."
Ogaden forces who have been leading a liberation struggle for the independence of ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia's vast oil-rich region, also claimed to have captured heavy weaponry, ammunition and military vehicles. Founded in 1884, the group has been at war with the Addis Ababa regime, accusing it of marginalizing the region.
Rebel attacks on Chinese oil workers in April 2007 had sparked a bloody clash between the two sides in Ogaden. The clash left 77 people dead.
Last month, the group accused the Ethiopian government of "deliberately organizing and instigating armed attack on the Oromo." This accusation was pedaled after armed militia from Gumuz, a region bordering Omomia from the west, was reported to have been involved in "wanton killings" of Oromo people. An estimated 400 people were reported killed in the two day terror campaign.
Besides, the Ethiopian High Court sentenced eight ONLF separatist rebel fighters to death in May after they were found guilty of "killing and wounding innocent people."
The rebels detonated grenades into a stadium where some 100,000 people gathered for a national day celebration last year, killing six people and wounding more than 40 others. Several people died in the stampede after police responded to the attack by firing shots in the air.
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