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News: Army kills three civilians, severely injures six following protests in Sitti zone, Somali region: local official

Addis Abeba – A local official said three people were killed and six others were severely injured after members of the defense forces fired on a crowd during a protest held in Ayisha district, Sitti Zone of the Somali regional state on Monday, 27 March 2023.

A senior government official from the district who asked to be anonymous told Addis Standard that residents of the district who felt that the national army was implicitly supporting security forces from the Afar region in the ongoing border disputes between the two regions were protesting on Sunday and Monday.

The official added that the Ethio-Djibouti highway was closed as a result of the protests and members of the army who arrived in the area on Monday demanded for the highway to be opened.

“After some confrontations local government officials managed to convince the protesters to open the highway but members of the army suddenly opened fire killing three and injuring six others,” he said.

Ali Samire, former head of Somali region Border Affairs and Conflict Resolution Bureau who said that he has been closely following the incident corroborated the official’s account on the circumstances of the killing of the three civilians.

The Congress for Somali Cause (CSC) in a statement on Tuesday strongly denounced what it described as “cowardly killing” of innocent civilians in Aysha, Sitti Zone.

CSC further said that the victims were “peacefully protesting against the ENDF’s tacit support for the Afar militia that has been committing heinous crimes, including killing and displacing Somalis from their homes in Adeytu, Garba Issa, and Undufo over the last 5 years”.

It called on the federal government to bring to justice those who committed the crime.

Sporadic clashes frequently occur especially over the past years between militias from the two regional states on disputed land. In November last year, at least 18 civilians were killed, several others injured in fresh clashes in areas bordering the two regional states, according to a source from the Somali region who spoke with Addis Standard.

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Security forces from the two regional states have been engaged in clashes after Somali region unilaterally withdrew from a 2014 agreement that saw the handover of three Kebeles (Gadamaytu/Garba Issa, Undafo/Undhufo and Adaytu/Adayti) to the Afar regional state on May, 2019.

The area saw multiple Incidents of violence leading up to a serious war of words between officials of the two regions. 

Addis Standard’s attempts to get further comments on the latest incident both from the Somali region officials and the ENDF were not successful. AS

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