ADDIS ABABA – A claim by an Ethiopian rebel group that they have killed 267 government soldiers since the beginning of October has been dismissed by Ethiopia as “an internet gimmick”.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) issued statement said on Tuesday gave details of dates and places of attack.
“We have conducted 34 tactical and strategic military operations, killing 267 Ethiopian army soldiers and wounding 157 since the beginning of October “, the ONLF claimed.
The rebel claims were promptly refuted by an Ethiopian official.
“The ONLF has disintegrated, there was no significant fire on the ground that can be validated,” government spokesperson Bereket Simon told Agence France-Presse, adding he only knew of a bulldozer driver killed near the town of Fiq.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) seeks more autonomy for the country’s mainly ethnic-Somali Ogaden region in protest to want it says is marginalized by the Addis Ababa regime.
“The ONLF army is continuing its offensive against Ethiopian Army troops in the Ogaden,” the faction led by former Somali navy chief Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman said in a statement.
The latest attack is the first after the Ethiopian government said signed a peace deal last month with an ONLF faction which ended over two decades of war with Ethiopia. However, an exiled break away of ONLF has dismissed the peace deal then and vowed to continue an arms struggle against Ethiopia.
The Ogaden region is said to be a promising land of oil deposit and currently international firms including Malaysia’s Petronas are engaged in exploring oil despite threats from the ONLF against exploration.
Ethiopian forces launched an assault against the group after a 2007 attack on a Chinese oil exploration venture which killed 65 Ethiopian soldiers and nine Chinese oil workers.