Addis Ababa – Clashes between militias from the Oromia and Somali regional states in Babile district have left several civilians dead, many others injured, residents told Addis Standard.
Babile district/woreda exists as an administrative unit both in Fafan zone of the Somali region and East Hararghe zone of Oromia region, but two informants from the Somali side told Addis Standard that Koloji camp where government militias from the Oromia region launched an attack on Monday is found in Somali region and hosts more than 20,000 Somalis displaced from Oromia during the 2017 conflict.
Several people including women, children and the elderly have been killed in the skirmishes that lasted for three days according to the informants. Mohammed Seid, a medical professional, at the Jigjiga hospital told Addis Standard that two women and three children are among at least ten fatalities that occurred in the clashes since Monday, while more than twenty out of which nine involved women and under five children have been injured.
A source close to the Somali regional administration told Addis Standard that the latest clashes are neither between local civilian people from the two regions nor over land claims as the administrative boundaries in the area have been clearly demarcated following the 2004 referendum.
The source who also conveyed the killing of civilians from both sides during the recent clashes claimed that people who have interests with regard to contraband trade, mainly khat, may have utilized state militias to start the fighting, adding that the Somali regional state had recently put up a checkpoint in the area.
The source said there haven’t been intervention yet from the federal government forces but they hoped that regional leaders including the presidents of the two regional states who are in Adama city, Oromia region attending the ruling Prosperity Party’s training will agree and discuss to address the issue.
Multiple attempts by Addis Standard to include the views of local officials in Babile district as well as East Hararghe zone from the Oromia side have been futile.
In March, Addis Standard reported that seven people were killed and 14 others seriously injured following days of clashes between communities residing in adjacent districts of Tulu Guled in Somali region and Chinaksan in Oromia region.
Earlier in January, at least three civilians were killed and 12 more were severely injured following clashes that flared when workers commissioned by the government of Oromia region started executing construction of a dam in the border area of Marar Kebele, which Somali residents say is located inside Tulu Guled district of Fafan zone in the Somali regional state. A.S.