Clashes, looting in eastern Ethiopia: residents

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Ethiopian Federal Police officers detain a woman suspected to be carrying explosives during the welcoming ceremony of Jawar Mohammed, US-based Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo Protests, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on August 5, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)
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Ethiopian Federal Police officers detain a woman suspected to be carrying explosives during the welcoming ceremony of Jawar Mohammed, US-based Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo Protests, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on August 5, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)
Updated 05 August 2018
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Clashes, looting in eastern Ethiopia: residents

  • Witnesses said mobs were emptying bank vaults and torching churches in the volatile Somali region of eastern Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia’s defense ministry on Saturday issued a statement saying it would take “necessary measures” to restore order

ADDIS ABABA: Residents in the volatile Somali region of eastern Ethiopia on Sunday reported riots, looting and ethnic attacks, as the US embassy in Addis Ababa advised its citizens to avoid the region.
“Everybody is inside his home. Nobody is leaving,” said a resident of the regional capital Jigjiga who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“So many of my neighbors... have lost their hotels, their shops their homes, everything. Each and every house has lost everything,” added the resident, who said he was in danger because of his Amhara ethnicity.
It was unclear what triggered the unrest which began on Saturday but photos circulating on social media showed Ethiopian military vehicles deployed in Jigjiga.
A second resident who belongs to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, said a Somali family was sheltering him from the feared Liyu regional police force, which rights groups have repeatedly accused of abuses.
He added that mobs were emptying bank vaults and torching churches in the majority Muslim region.
The US embassy in Addis Ababa said Saturday the Ethiopian military had “seized control of key highways, government buildings, and the airport in Jijiga.”
“Media continue to report sporadic on-going unrest in various parts of Ethiopia’s Somali region. While the unrest appears to be centered around Jijiga, there are reports of incidents of violence in Dire Dawa and other areas of the Somali region,” it added on Sunday in another travel warning.
“US Embassy personnel are avoiding the region until the situation returns to normal and we encourage Americans to do the same,” it said.
Ethiopia’s defense ministry on Saturday issued a statement saying it would take “necessary measures” to restore order in the region.
“The ministry will not sit by and watch,” it said in a statement carried by the state-affiliated Fana media outlet.
Ethiopia is divided between ethnically demarcated federal regions that are intended to give different ethnicities a degree of self-rule but have been criticized for exacerbating ethnic tensions.
Somali is Ethiopia’s second-largest region and one of its most unstable.
Around 1.1 million people fled their homes last year when ethnic fighting broke out along its border with neighboring Oromia region.
Last month, Human Rights Watch accused the regional government of running a secret prison where it tortured, raped and starved suspected members of a separatist group.


Japan drops ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea from diplomatic book

Updated 23 April 2019
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Japan drops ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea from diplomatic book

  • Language was dropped after consideration of latest developments surrounding North Korea
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seen as a foreign policy hawk, has also softened his rhetoric toward North Korea

TOKYO: Japan on Tuesday dropped the push to apply “maximum pressure” on North Korea from its official foreign policy, an apparent softening of Tokyo’s position as major powers engage with Pyongyang.
In last year’s “Diplomatic Bluebook,” published when tensions on the Korean peninsula were soaring, Japan said it was coordinating efforts with its allies to “maximize pressure on North Korea by all available means.”
But this language was dropped from this year’s edition, drawn up after diplomats had “taken comprehensively into account the latest developments surrounding North Korea,” according to chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.
“There have been major developments in the situation surrounding North Korea in light of events such as the US-North Korea summits in June last year and February,” Suga told reporters.
Abe, seen as a foreign policy hawk, has also softened his rhetoric toward North Korea, frequently offering to meet leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the decades-old issue of Japanese civilians kidnapped by the North.
“Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea by comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues as well as settling an unfortunate past,” Suga said.
Tokyo has been one of the most hawkish of the major powers on North Korea and has been on the receiving end of some of Pyongyang’s harshest rhetoric — as well as missiles launched over its territory.
Until late 2017, North Korea repeatedly tested missiles that flew toward or over Japan, sparking warnings blared out on loudspeakers and stoking calls for a tough stance against Pyongyang.
However, Japan now finds itself battling to keep itself relevant in the fast-moving North Korea issue as Kim expands his diplomatic circle.
Kim is now preparing for talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, after multiple meetings with US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.
Abe will soon meet Trump at the White House where the issue of North Korea is bound to be on the table.