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Home Horn News Ethiopia The notorious Somali region “liyu police” invades villages in Eastern Oromia

The notorious Somali region “liyu police” invades villages in Eastern Oromia

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Report compiled by Jilcha Hamid and Arif Ali

Jan. 14/2013 – It has been reported that the Ethiopian-Somali regional state militia known as ‘Liyu Police’ have attacked the town of Qumbi in Eastern Oromia killing many and displacing the population. For the past month the Liyu Police have been attacking, harassing and displacing civilians in the lowland region of Mayu Mulluqe county (woreda) in East Hararge zone. Attacks have taken place in and around the municipalities of Qumbi Goohaa, Seelaa Jaajoo and Aanaa Miinoo according to locals. Many have fled these areas to neighbouring places such as Burqa Tirtira and the vacated areas remain under the Liyu police occupation, until this report is filed.

Since its creation in 2007 the Liyu Police militia has been known to commit atrocities against civilians in the Ogaden region and has launched attacks on neighbouring Somali tribes on numerous occasions. However  in the last few months, the militia  has  began carrying out cross-boarder raids into Oromia region. Its to be remembered that this  heavily armed militia overrun the town of Moyale  in Southern Oromia resulting in the death of cozens of people and forcing terns of  of thousands to flee to Kenya, as reported by Al Jazeera.  All indications are that the attacks have been carried out on the orders of the Federal government in Addis Ababa.  As reported at the time, during the attack on Moyale, the 4th army division stationed  just two miles outside the town center watched silently as the militia overrun the police station and ransacked the town.  Then the militia was allowed safe passage to retreat after looting and burning the town while administrators of the Borana province who protested against the army complacency were thrown to jail where they still remain.

Similarly, prior to   the recent attacks, the local militia in Mayu Mulluqe in charge of security had been disarmed while the Liyu Police have continued to receive supply of arms and food from the federal government, according to officials of the East Hararghe province who do not wish their name to be disclosed.  residents of After the militia’s incursions into Oromia region began last month, trucks transporting weapons to the areas controlled by the militia have been reported by witnesses. Locals in Burqa Tirtira have blockaded roads preventing weapons from reaching the militia currently occupying Qumbi. Despite this, weapons have been flown in and the campaign has continued. It is believed that Burqa Tirtira town may be the next target of the onslaught. This militia is so well trained and heavily armed that, they have taken over most of the fight against the Ogaden insurgents enabling the federal government to move most of its contingents to the northern  front where confrontation with Eritrea is on the rise.  The Guardian recently  reported that the British aid money is been used to arm and train the Liyu police .

According to a source in the Somali region, president of the region and commander of the Liyu police told the Somali elders  that  the cross-boarder raids and invasions by the Liyu police is meant to reclaim territories lost to Oromia during the 2004 boarder referendum. It is to be recalled that referendum was  organized to settle dispute between the two regions over 420 kebeles in 12 districts. The referendum resulted in residents living in the 80% of the disputed areas voting to join Oromia.  The district of Qumbi was created from some of the villages that voted to join Oromia. However, the demarcation was has been dragging for the last nine years. The final phase of the demarcation was supposed to take place  this year, Hence, the recent invasions are meant to to establish fact on the ground to influence the final outcome.

However, the territorial dispute seems to be  more of a cover story than a real motive for both the regional and federal government in catalyzing this conflict. There are two motives at play, tackling the activities of  the Oganden insurgents and dispersing the growing resistance of the Muslim population. The government suspects that Oromo communities in the region has been complacent  in facilitating for  the Ogaden  insurgents to pass through and hide  within the Oromo territories whenever they are pressured in their home region. The government securities believe that local elders’ coziness   towards the Oganden rebels might be orchestrated   by the Oromo  Liberation that historically enjoys strong support in the area. Hence the regime  is reviving  the territorial dispute to frustrate the  operational alliance between the two insurgents.

Moreover, East Hararge zone has as of late been the target of the governments Ahbash indoctrination campaign and was singled out in a leaked government document  as a target zone for government “re-education” due to the so called spread of “extremism”. The report complained that administrators in charge of many of the districts in the province have been openly hostile towards and refuse to implement the indoctrination campaigns.  Therefore these attacks by the Liyu Police militia can be interpreted as an effort by the Ethiopian government to instill fear in the population and force them into submission in exchange for protection against the cross-boarder raids. If the government does at some point decide to step in and call off its dogs, they will likely try to appear as the peacemaker and the populations only source of security, while sowing hatred and distrust between Oromos and their neighbors.

Update: we have confirmed that the town of  Mino still remains under the occupation of the Liyuu police force and death on the Oromia side has reached 30 including 10 members of the regional special police. 
 

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