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.


Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

Updated 18 August 2018
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Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Office says Afghanistan has not shared any evidence to support its recent allegations against Pakistan
  • Imran Khan’s idea of a soft border between Pakistan and Afghanistan may have suffered a big setback in the wake of the Ghazni attack

PESHAWAR: In the backdrop of the Taliban’s brazen assault on the southern city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani alleged that the bodies of the perpetrators had arrived in Pakistan, though Islamabad maintained that Kabul had not officially shared any information or evidence in this regard.
Soon after that, the Afghan president said in a fiery speech to a jirga in Ghazni: “I have a message for Pakistan. Dead bodies (of the Taliban) have arrived in (Pakistan). Peace cannot be forcefully imposed on Afghanistan. Where did they (Taliban) come from and why are they being treated in (Pakistani) hospitals?”
But Pakistan strongly rejected reports claiming that some Taliban fighters involved in the Ghazni attack had been offered medical treatment in its hospitals.
In the absence of any official communication through regular channels established bilaterally, such reports cannot be given any credence, said Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday.
Haq Nawaz, a senior Peshawar-based security analyst, told Arab News that the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan faced a string of daunting challenges, such as economic revival, political stability, tackling corruption, and improving relations with his country’s immediate neighbors.
However, he added that recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have stepped up violent activities, will probably constitute a much bigger predicament for the new political administration.
He recalled that Khan had mentioned in his victory speech that he wanted a European Union-style soft border with Afghanistan, claiming that the idea had seemingly received a setback after the Ghazni attack.
“The latest bout of allegations will have a negative impact on the process of reviving good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Nawaz noted.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed “deep concern” over the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan and lamented in a statement released by the military’s media wing the loss of precious lives.
Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan was not supporting terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. He added that the allegation about the movement of injured or dead terrorists from Ghazni to Pakistan was incorrect.
However, the army chief noted that there were scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan, and that some of them periodically fell victim to acts of terrorism along with their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. “Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate,” he maintained.
Yet, the Afghan president sought an explanation from Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on the Ghazni attack.
“Imran Khan, you are the son of Pashtun parents. Investigate this and give me an answer. General Bajwa, you have repeatedly given me assurances over phone calls that special attention would be given to the issue of peace in Afghanistan once elections took place in Pakistan. Now give me an answer,” Ghani said while addressing a group of tribal elders attending the jirga.
Bajwa said that different factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hiding in their sanctuaries in Afghanistan after assuming Afghan identities, were transported to Pakistan for medical help after receiving injuries.
Nawaz said the Afghan government should share relevant evidence with Pakistan in this case, arguing that using the media or social media to deal with such serious and sensitive developments can worsen the situation.
He said it was not just a statement or allegation from an ordinary official since the claim was made by a head of state, adding that both countries should settle such teething issues through dialogue and diplomatic channels.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in its statement: “Such reports can only be viewed as malicious propaganda to vitiate the existing cooperation between the two countries.”