Insurgency in Ogaden

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Insurgency in Ogaden
Part of the conflicts in the Horn of Africa
035 ONLF rebellion.JPG
A column of ONLF rebels, October 8, 2006. (Photo by Jonathan Alpeyrie)
Date 1995[1] - ongoing
Location Somali region (Ethiopia)
Status Media blockade in the region by Ethiopia government. Ethiopian government defeat of ONLF forces militarily, with small groups targetting NGOs and citizens in banditry attacks. Instability on a criminal area continues in the region.
Flag of Ogaden National Liberation Front(2).svg
Ogaden National Liberation Front
Commanders and leaders
Ethiopia Meles Zenawi
Ethiopia Kuma Demeksa
Ethiopia Siraj Fergessa
Ethiopia Negasso Gidada
Ethiopia Girma Wolde-Giorgis
Ethiopia Samora Yunis
Flag of Ogaden National Liberation Front(2).svg Mohamed Sirad Dolal [2]  
Flag of Ogaden National Liberation Front(2).svg Mohammed Omar Osman
Casualties and losses
5,000[citation needed] 1,500 fatalities[citation needed]
2,000 civilians fatalities[citation needed]

The insurgency in Ogaden, waged by the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in Ethiopia's Somali region, began in 1995 and ended in 2008.[citation needed] Originally an accepted political party which contributed three Presidents of the Somali Region after the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front expelled them from power, the ONLF began a guerrilla war to promote their goals. For many years, the remoteness of the Somali Region led to the conflict being ignored by the international media, until several high-profile attacks in 2007: the attack on the Chinese oil site at Abole and attacks in Jigjiga and Dhagahbur.


On 13 April 2003, ONLF initiated the Operation Mandad, aiming the expulsion of government troops from the districts of Korahey and Dolo. Two days later a battle took place in the towns of Alen and Garas Qalo, security forces suffered 60 fatalities and lost 2 army trucks, 41 rebels were also killed in the fighting. Authorities responded by imposing curfews on the towns of Kebri Dehar, Warder, and Shilabo, 36 suspected militants were also arrested.[3]

On 1 October 2005, insurgents launched attacks against government troops stationed in the towns of Hamarro and Fik, killing 4 and injuring 5 soldiers.[4]

On 2 October 2005, the town of Gasan and an army base located in the district of Kebri Dehar came under a militant attack, 5 soldiers were slain and 6 wounded.[4]

On 19 October 2005, rebels attacked an army encampment in the area of Kudunbur, 11 soldiers were killed and 13 wounded.[4]

On 15 November 2005, Ethiopian troops allegedly committed a massacre of 30 civilians and prisoners after the later demanded better treatment from their captors.[5]

On 13 March 2006, an ONLF delegation conducted a briefing with officials representing the Danish foreign ministry, human rights abuses were discussed during the meeting.[6]

On 23 July 2006, a communique issued by ONLF announced the shootdown of an Ethiopian airforce, transport helicopter. The incident reportedly took place in the vicinity of the town Gabo Gabo, Qorahay zone, 20 soldiers were killed in the aftermath.[7]

Main article: Abole oil field raid

On 24 April 2007, ONLF launched an attack on a Chinese owned oil facility in Abole, a total of 74 people were killed in the attack including 9 Chinese citizens.[8]

In response to the April 2007 ONLF attack, Ethiopian security forces initiated a large scale counter insurgency campaign against the ONLF. Between June 2007-May 2008 approximately 1,000 people were killed as the opposing faction engaged in combat and committed human rights abuses.[9]

On 3 July 2007, an ONLF ambush outside the town of Shilaabo resulted in the deaths of 43 soldiers, the separatists suffered 5 casualties and 8 rebels were injured.[10]

On 22 January 2008, a government official announced the death of former top guerrilla commander Mohamed Sirad Dolal, following an operation in the Denan woreda of the Gode zone. By the time of his death Sirad had left ONLF and operated as a commander of Al-Itihad Al-Islami.[2]

On 3 August 2009, an Ethiopian court convicted Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, an Ethiopian born Canadian citizen to life in prison, on charges of belonging to ONLF. Makhtal denied all allegations, stating that the reason behind his prosecution is his relation to one of ONLF's founding members.[11]

On 27 October 2009, an ONLF spokesman accused the governments of Puntland and Somaliland of handing over ONLF rebels to the Ethiopean security forces.[12]

On 11 January 2011, Ethiopian authorities freed 402 previously imprisoned ONLF members as part of a peace deal, previously signed with one of ONLF's factions.[13]

On 4 July 2011, government troops killed 15 and detained 6 rebels, 2 Swedish journalists accompanying the militants were also wounded during the engagement.[14]

Between 16–17 March 2012, according to a Human Rights Watch report, Ethiopian special police forces executed 10 civilians and looted dozens of shops in the village of Raqda, the attack came as a retaliation for the recent death of several policemen.[15]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Unrest Simmers In Ethiopia's Ogaden, Aljazeera English, April 15, 2008
  2. ^ a b "Ethiopia claims killing of rebel leader in Ogaden". Sudan Trbune. 22 January 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Ethiopian rebels claim victory over government forces in southeast". Sudan Trbune. 23 April 2003. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c "Ethiopia’s Oganden rebels claim attacks against regular troops". Sudan Trbune. 25 October 2005. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "Ogaden’s ONLF calls to condemn Ethiopia for massacre of 31 civilians". Sudan Trbune. 15 November 2005. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "Ethiopian rebels delegation meets Danish officials". Sudan Trbune. 16 March 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "ONLF shoots down Ethiopian military helicopter". Sudan Trbune. 23 July 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "China strongly condemns attack on Chinese oil company site in Ethiopia". Embassy of People's Republic of China in the United States of America. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  9. ^ Malone, Barry (2007-11-06). "UN to open office in Ethiopia's troubled Ogaden". (Reuters). Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  10. ^ "Ogaden rebels say 43 Ethiopian soldiers killed in ambush attack". Sudan Trbune. 15 November 2005. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Ethiopia sentences Canadian to life on terrorism charges". Sudan Trbune. 9 August 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Ogaden rebels accuse Puntland of handing over youth to Ethiopia". Sudan Trbune. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "Ethiopia releases hundreds of jailed ONLF rebels". Sudan Trbune. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Ethiopia: Army kills 15 rebels, wounds Swedish journalists". Sudan Trbune. 4 July 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "HRW: Ethiopian special forces execute 10 civilians". Sudan Trbune. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 

External links[edit]