Ethiopian officials declare curfew in Ogaden and ban public gathering

Kwao Saa

The Ethiopian government has imposed a curfew and a ban of public gathering in Ogaden. The decree came about after Abdi Mohammed Omar, the former president of the Somali regional state, was arrested and charged with involvement in mass killings and robbery. About 47 people were also arrested and slapped with criminal charges alongside Mr. Omar.

Abdullahi Mohamed Abdi, the deputy security chief of the region, said the restrictions were imposed to aid the hunt for suspects of “politically instigated violence.” The curfew and ban on public gathering are expected to last for three days to allow security officials to locate the perpetrators.

Omar, who was deposed by federal forces in August 2018, was charged along with 46 others on Wednesday for backing a vigilante group called Hego. The group is reportedly behind attacks that lasted for at least three days. About 58 people died from the violence.

Meanwhile, officials have discovered a mass grave with about 200 remains in the region. The mass grave is from an earlier time way before the melee in August last year, Fana Broadcasting reported. The mass grave is located along the border with the Oromia region.

Hego has also been accused of robbing several businesses in the region.

Mustafa Omer, the new President of Ogaden, has promised to make his predecessor pay for his crimes. Omer recently fired five members of his cabinet over their suspected connection with the ousted leader of the region.

Last week, the Federal Attorney General said his office had concluded an investigation into several crimes committed in Ogaden. The investigation reportedly lasted for about five months.

Omar was the leader of the Somali region for over a decade. During his tenure, human right groups accused him of perpetrating abuses including torture. The former Ogaden leader spent years fighting to destroy the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).