Somaliland: Eritrean Trained ONLF Rebels Surrounded

HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — The top General of Somaliland armed forces, Gen. Elmi Robleh Furr, and the National Police Chief, Commissioner Nouh Ismail Taani held a press conference today in Hargeisa, in which they showcased different types of weapon, military training manuals, and sum of cash that they said it was captured from a militia group that entered the country from Northwestern shores, near the seaport towns of Ziyla and Lughaya. The two official estimated the numbers of the militia close to 250 men. General Elmi Robel Furr said that the Somaliland armed forces are surrounding the militia in Maar-maar Mountains in Awdal Region.
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Although, it is not independently confirmed but the Somaliland secret and armed services believe the men are part of the Ogadan National Liberation Front. The ONLF has been engaged in brutal war against the Ethiopian government since 1984. The ONLF and the Ethiopia government have been accused of committing human right violation in the Eastern part of the country, which inhabited by Somali majority. The ONLF has been fighting to liberate Ogadan Region (Eastern part of Ethiopia) also to join the Somalia.

Somaliland Chief Police, Commissioner Nouh Taani told the press the following:

   "A group of armed men entered Somaliland from Bulle-Cade, which is inhabitant area between towns of Ziyla and Lughaya in the North West of the country. Our information confirms that they entered the country on 10th of September. We estimated their numbers between 250-300 men. Three large trucks were waiting for them. The group was transported in the trucks, pretending to be carrying shipments of salt. The trucks were able to pass through security checkpoint, because they were familiar to the Somaliland police in that rout in Jidh.”

Chief of Police added that:

    "Somaliland security services received news of abandoned artillery and ammunition found outside of Abdulqadir town near the Ethiopian borders. The army and police were able to act quickly and trace men to Maar-maar Mountains. These are some of things we found, it include bazookas, chemical materials, cash (in Eritrean currency, Nakfa), communication equipments, and military training manuals in Somali and Amarhi."

He added,

    “the group of men were trying to cross to the Ethiopia near Abdoulqadir town, however, they are surrounded in Maarm-maar and Libaxalaye mountains, which are on the Western borders of Ethiopia and Somaliland. The Ethiopia army received this information early. They were able to prevent the group from crossing into Ethiopia. We are working closely with the Ethiopian army. So the militia now is in the “No-man Zone” between Ethiopia and Somaliland, they are surrounded from both sides. And these are the some of the weapons we captured from them."

The General of armed forces, Gen. Elmi Robleh Furr said, “this not the first time thatSomaliland police captured individuals illegally entering Ethiopia through Somaliland. But this is the first time we have confronted this large number of militants, who are fully armed.”

The General added that Somaliland coast is long and vast, and Somaliland armed services and Navy cannot patrol it 100%. We have limited resources.

“In previous raids, we captured smuggled goods, gasoline, electronic and untaxed products; we have also captured weapons and illegal materials. We will continue our efforts to secure our borders, but as it now, we are under resourced.”

Somaliland army sent reinforcement to Abdulqadir town to captured the armed men. The General confirmed that all the evidences point to ONFL.

The two officials discounted public speculations that the armed men are part of local Somaliland militia from Awdal Regions. The newly elected Somaliland government is unpopular in Awdal Province. There were number of protests in the region after President Mohamed Ahmed Mohamoud ‘Silanyo’ announced his cabinet. Local leaders in the region were unhappy with the representation they received in the cabinet.

The Ethiopian and Somaliland government have close military and security cooperation. In previous incidents the Somaliland government handed over members of ONFL and Islamists activities wanted by the Ethiopian government. In 2008 Human Rights Watch accused the Ethiopian soldiers of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during a counterinsurgency campaign in its Eastern Somali region. In May of this year, the Ethiopian government entered Somaliland borders to crush SSC militia and other Islamist militia.

The SSC (Sool, Saanag and Cyan) is fighting Sin ool and Snaag Regions against the Somaliland government. They are backed by pro-Somalia elements and other militants in the region such as ONLF. Ethiopia has accused groups like the ONLF, al-Shabab and SSC to be proxy for Eritrea, the regional and historic enemy of Ethiopia.

Many analysts have accused both countries to play a proxy war in Somalia. Eritrea supports number of anti-Ethiopian militant group like ONLF and al Shabab, whereas the Ethiopian government supports the weak Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu. Both government have openly supported opposing political sides inside Somalia. The two countries have a long history of border dispute.


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