Somali Region president resigns; calm returns to Jijiga

(VOA) – Ethiopian soldiers have taken control of major highways, government buildings and the airport in the eastern Somali region after violence in the capital of Jigjiga left at least 29 people dead.

Fighting broke out Friday after an apparent rift between local authorities and the central Ethiopian government.

It is unclear exactly what led to the violence. A senior official with the region’s Somali People’s Democratic Party, Khadar Abdi Ismail, tells VOA the federal forces are responsible for the deaths.

He blames the violence on what he calls public anger over “the illegal entry of the dangerously armed troops” into the city. Ismail says non-Somali ethnic communities were targeted, shops looted, buildings burned and churches destroyed.

Ethiopia’s military has vowed to take the “necessary measures … to restore order in the Ethiopian Somali regional state.”

The government recently accused regional officials of carrying out human rights abuses

The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia is urging Americans in the region to shelter in place and pay attention to local news reports for updates on the situation.

There are several thousand regional paramilitary fighters known as the Liyu police, a force created in 2007 primarily to quell the rebellion of the Ogaden National Liberation Front. Liyu police have been accused of committing brutality and torture against supporters of ONLF.

BBC Amharic has reported that Somali Region President Abdi Iley has resigned.

Abdi Ahmed Mohammed has been appointed at the news Somali Region President

PM Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff tweeted:

Calm returns to Jijiga