August 11, 2006

Ethiopia says killed 13 rebels crossing from Somalia

By Tsegaye Tadesse

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia said on Friday its army
had killed 13 rebels and caught other commanders of an eastern
separatist movement after they crossed from Somalia.

Separately, Kenya announced the capture of 45 members of a
another Ethiopian rebel group operating in the south, while an
Ethiopian general who defected to Eritrea was quoted as saying
he plans to take up arms against Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The captured members of the eastern Ogaden National
Liberation Front (ONLF) -- a movement of ethnic Somalis
fighting for independence -- confessed they were armed and
trained both by Eritrea and Somali Islamists, a regional
official said.

"They were sent into Ethiopia to create insecurity," Abdu
Ahmed Arab, deputy head of security and justice for Ethiopia's
Somali region, told reporters.

"The Armed Forces killed 13 and captured many other top
officials of the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front, in an
operation launched at eradicating rebel groups who cross into
the country from neighboring Somalia."

He gave no figures for possible Ethiopian casualties during
Wednesday's clash in the remote and arid region.

Addis Ababa's long-time foe, Eritrea, denies it supports
rebel groups in Ethiopia, saying that accusation is an excuse
for internal repression by Meles' government.

Somalia's Islamists, who came to the fore in June when they
took Mogadishu and other southern towns including one near the
Ethiopian border, have also denied backing Ethiopian rebels.


In north Kenya, authorities said they caught at least 45
members or sympathizers of another small Ethiopian group, the
Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), operating on the border.

Vincent Okioma, district commissioner for the northern
Kenyan region of Moyale, said the suspects were rounded up in
the last five days in joint Kenyan-Ethiopian operations on both
sides of the border.

"Security patrols will last for the next two months to
search for and repatriate OLF rebels, and make Kenya a safer
environment," Okioma added to Reuters.

A dissident Ethiopian general who defected this week to
neighboring Eritrea, along with scores of soldiers, was quoted
on Friday as saying that he would be joining the OLF to fight
for his Oromo people's rights.

"Our first hope was to bring about a change in Ethiopia to
bring about peace and for the peoples to live in equality,
including the Oromo people," Brigadier General Kemal Gelchu
told the BBC from Asmara, explaining his defection.

"But the last year's experience is war, not peace. Our
hopes were dashed and that's why we went out," he said,
referring to accusations of internal repression and killings in

"The language they (the Ethiopian government) understand is
force and we're going to challenge them by force."

(Additional reporting by Samual Sambat Sam in Moyale)