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HomeNewsEthiopia: Gunmen killed at least 17 people,wounded 34 in Afar region

Ethiopia: Gunmen killed at least 17 people,wounded 34 in Afar region

Armed groups whose motives are not yet identified attacked civilians in Afar region of Ethiopia but it is established that attackers used Somali region special forces uniform and Djibouti Defense Force uniform

Ethiopia _ Afar Region
Google Satellite Map shows the area where the attack took place.

October 14, 2019

At least 17 were killed and 34 others wounded after heavily armed gunmen opened fire in Asaita and Dubti area of Afar region. The attack happened on Saturday in Afambo district in Oblo locality.

District administration head, Hussien Ali, told VOA Amharic service that on Saturday around 4 a.m. in the morning Somali Special Forces and Issa tribe from Djibouti opened a coordinated attack on civilians in the region. “They used a rocket launchers, machine guns, and bombs. Elders and women are killed in the attack,” he added. The number of women killed in the attack is said to be 4.

One of the victims is a 6 months old baby, according to the source.

Those who sustained wounds are hospitalized in Asaita and Dubti hospitals while some are referred to Mekele Hospital. It is unclear if their condition is life-threatening or not.

There seems to be a conflicting report about a number of people killed in the attack.  The region’s police crime prevention deputy commissioner, Ahmed Humed, has reportedly told local news sources that the death toll is 16.

“We’ve never seen such an incident at this scale before where many civilians lost their lives. We are still investigating who these armed men are,” he said as quoted by Reuters.

Afar community members in the area launched a counter-attack and ten of the armed men are killed according to the district head who spoke to VOA news.

The motives of the attackers are not yet established.  What is known so far based information reportedly collected from the attackers who were killed during counter-attack measure is that they used Somali region special forces uniform and Djibouti defense force uniform. In addition to the uniform, a Djiboutian ID and Somali region ID is recorded from the attackers.

An eyewitness who claimed to be among the first responders to help the victims told VOA Amharic that a vehicle with Somaliland plate number is recovered.

He also said that a vehicle that carried Djiboutian soldiers was attacked by Afar people and the vehicle was burned.

Kontie Mousa is leader of Afar People’s Party. Asked if the “horrible news” about the attack is true on Twitter on Sunday October 13, he said “Horrible indeed & the news is true. We’ve been appealing to the government of Ethiopia to stop the aggression on Afars supported by neighbouring states and terror groups but the negligence continues.”

Apparently, there was a report about the invasion of the Djiboutian army, and the Ethiopian Defense Force has issued a statement on Monday dismissing the report.

“Circulating information that Djibouti Defense Force crossed the Ethiopian border to Afar region and inflicted attack is false,” it was said.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) cited Colonel Tesfaye from the Defense Force as saying that the state of relations between Ethiopia and Djibouti is a strong one and there is no concrete reason that could bring the two countries into a clash.

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  1. For those who had lived through such cruel raids like me may ask the questions ‘still?’ ‘Even in this year and age?’. As far as I can remember the instigators of such senseless killing are rogue elements on both sides. At one time it could be such elements from the Afar clans and many times from the Issa clans. At one point for all intents and purposes the entire nomadic clans of the Issa clans had stopped coming to towns on market days and taken to the woods. When I was a young boys the Afars used to come to market days at railway station from Bordode, Afdem(Aware) and Mieso. They brought all their honey dipped butter, hides and a few other products and they buy essentials they need when they went back. For most of the times it was a sure thing that they will be attacked by rogue elements from the Issa clans when they were going back to their villages in the Gewane area. Many times the local policemen provided them protection by traveling and many of them had fallen victims to the bullets of such senseless behavior.

    Such raids began to escalate especially after the independence of Somalia. Railway station like Afdem(Aware) used to be an Afar town because I had gone there with my auntie during one of her trips them on market days. Such days were on Thursdays, if my memory does not fail me. The market used to teem with Afar tribesmen. Even most of the students there used to be Afar children. I have heard some of had moved to Djibouti to become prominent citizens there. It is a different story now. When I passed thru that town on a train ride during my vacation from the Middle East in the mid 1960’s, our train had a short stop at Afdem(Aware). I could not find one living, breathing Afar there. It was a vibrant town when I left the country in the 1950’s. At one point it was the seat of the district office. There were some Greek business men with their families. There was even a Greek restaurant there. The train used to take an hour break there for lunch on its trips from Addis/Finfine to Dire Dawa. But on my stop-over there in 1965, it was just a dying village. It was a victim of senseless cattle rustling and killings associated with it. The Afars were chased out of there abandoning all villages that led them from Gewane to Afdem(Aware). All that time places like Mulu, Mieso and the rural locations including those behind Mount Asabot all the way to the shores of Awash were inhabited by Oromos including my own Itu clan members on my mother’s side.

    Now when I write this past history I am not saying demography of places should not change. Not at all. That has been happening throughout the history of humans. But at one point it can become so deadly and destructive. This is one example. That could not happen without external instigating and support. Again such raids by both sides is not new but most of the times it was the rogue elements among the Issa clans the offenders. Again, I did not say all Issa clans but ‘ROGUE ELEMENTS’.

    Now, you may find such deadly and destructive behavior begging the question: Why? Why do they conduct such raids? The reasons can both economical and cultural. Culturally, why pay the dowries with your own cattle when you get them by besieging your ‘enemies’? On the economy side, you may find the culprits by going all the way to the neighboring Djibouti and Somaliland. Your well nourished calf that was rustled today it may find itself at the slaughter houses in Djibouti or Hargeisa a week later or on its journey to the fat bellies of the Wahhabis two weeks later from the ports awaiting there. Such ‘rewarding’ markets began with the establishments of outposts by colonial powers in the 19th century. Their demand for animal products could in no way be satisfied by the cattles, sheep and goats available in such forbidding landscapes. These have been lucrative markets for such marauding thugs. That was bridled with illicit goods coming from Europe then and now from Asia. It is going to be an on-going headache for any administration. It was for Emperor Haile, it got worse with the butcher Mengistu and it got even more complicated with ill planned and executed slice’em-burn’em regional arrangement.

    This problem was untouchable for discussion before but it is a different period now. On the Somalis side, we have such gifted and brilliant young man H.E. Mustafa and I’m sure he has his equals on the Afar side. The root of the problem is not foreign based but rather right there in both regions. They have to sit down and come up with a long term plan that will gradually and surely change the nomadic ways of living by their citizens. They must be bold enough to face this factor head on and tag effective population growth in their regions. Just like my own Oromos they have been multiplying like there is no tomorrow. The best and assured way is to spread of industrialization in those areas which will drag women out of their homes into factories. Then they will have no time to incubate babies by clueless men just like my own. They have industrious people and can become the mfg hub for the Horn including those across the Bab-El-Mandab. Just like my merchant relatives they have astute business people among them. This senseless killing cannot just go on. It is not sustainable and if it continues it has the potential to be an all out genocide that has the possibility of spilling into the neighboring countries particularly Djibouti. I am preparing myself to hear a retribution response for the Afar clans soon and that will be something that bleeds my heart with sorrow. My niggaaz killing each other is the worst news I hate to hear.

    Ok My Dear Mustafa!!! Let’s get to work!!! My Dear Afar friends!!! Get to work and work with H.E. Mustafa to devise a long term solution for this age old deadly ritual. You know I have nothing but love for you and wish you all the best of luck in such blessed endeavor

  2. I also believe strongly that a meeting should be arranged of the leaders, elders of both ethnic groups both from Ethiopia and Djibouti in Addis/Finfine with the presence of representatives from every region in Ethiopia as observers. There have been various peace conferences between these two groups at different times going back to the days of the late emperor usually behind closed doors. In most cases there were not any official joint communiqués in written forms. They were just verbal blessing loaded with good wishes.

    It is a different era now. No matter how it is a matter of longstanding culture/way of life, the realities on the ground will no longer be able to sustain such livelihood heavily dependent on constant movement. It is time to set a workable and sustainable program where extended settlement will replace current constant movement from place to place. It must be everyone’s understanding/conviction that this type of livelihood is and will be even much more deadly to everyone than it is now. Before the middle the 1960’s it was unthinkable to hear cattle rusting carried out anywhere west of Afdem/Aware. But now we hear such raids being carried all the way to the banks of the Awash River. They have also been much deadlier now because bolt action rifles have been replaced by fully automatic AK-47’S and in this case grenades are said to have been deployed. The days of Mausers and Lee-Enfield bolt action guns are gone. The guns in the hands of rustlers of our day can rain more than 600 rounds on you per minute. So it is not funny. It is not just like Victor Cruz dancing to the salsa beat after a touchdown. No it is not entertaining. It was 17 killed now but if it is allowed to continue it will graduate itself into 50, 100, 1,000, 10,000 and tens of thousands. Such thugs have lost their reasons. I’m sure H.E. Mustafa and his equals from Afar ethnic group realize this pending specter. The rulers of Djibouti should also understand this mutual peril on the horizon and rein in the instigators usually illegal trade runners. And they have both the intellectual and enforcing capabilities to come up with a long term solutions. They must be bold and resolute to stand up to illicit traders. It must be stamped out and must be carried out with a joint effort.

    Again, everyone, consider yourself fairly forewarned!!!!

  3. Hahahahahaha hey Afar do u think we are stil in the reign of tyranny MAFIAs of TPLF plz dont be fooled and misguided. Somalis are everywhere if u are privileged to be neighbour with them u have to appreciate it and feel closenesss with your brothers or otherwise if anyone does trangress in our affairs of land, we will be hard on them.


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