Battle of Jijiga

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Battle of Jijiga
Part of Ethio-Somalia War
Date mid-September 1977- March 5 1978
Location Jijiga, Ethiopia
Result Somali Victory in first battle, Ethiopian victory in second battle
Ethiopia  Somalia
Casualties and losses
2,000 killed[citation needed] 3,500 killed[citation needed]

The Battle of Jijiga was a series of battles that was part of the Ethio-Somalia War. The battles were fought in Jijiga, Ethiopia and were the largest battles of the Ethio-Somalia War.[1]

First Battle of Jijiga (September 1977)[edit]

In mid September 1977, during the Somalia invasion of the Ethiopian Somali region, Somalia National Army forces attacked the Ethiopian held garrison in Jijiga. By September more than 90% of Somali Region was in SNA control and on September 12 the Somalia forces captured Jijiga,[1] a strategic success. Jijiga overlooked the nearby Marda Pass where Ethiopian troops were entrenched, halting any further Somalia advance into deeper land and the city was scene was a major Ethiopian base.

Local defenders at Jijiga garrison consisted of roughly 25,000 Ethiopian infantrymen and local militia enlisted into army ranks.[citation needed] The SNA attack on Jijiga came the same day Dire Dawa fell into Somalia hands.[citation needed]

The Ethiopian army had begun to receive Soviet aid by the time of the battle however moral was low and when a British journalist visited the battle field afterwards he claimed that large quantities of weapons had been abandoned by the fleeing Ethiopian forces.[2]

Parts of the battle, including the massacre of both Jijiga's Somali population by the Ethiopian Army and the Somalia's army's shelling and sniping of refugees attempting to flee the city, are described by Nega Mezlekia in his autobiographical book, Notes from the Hyena's Belly.[3]

Second Battle of Jijiga (March 1978)[edit]

After the Somalia advance on Harar had been turned back at the Battle of Harar, the Ethiopian forces launched a counter-attack against the Somalian Army (starting on January 22, 1978) with the help of Cuban forces. The Ethiopian forces outflanked the Somalia forces and inflicted major losses on them. On March 5, 1978 the Ethiopians recaptured Jijiga and on March 9,1978 Somalia's President, Siad Barre announced all Somalia forces would leave the Somali Region of Ethiopia, ending the war.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Bruce D. Porter (1986-07-25). The USSR in Third World Conflicts: Soviet Arms and Diplomacy in Local Wars. pp. 185–186. ISBN 9780521310642. 
  2. ^ The Capture of Jigjiga (Jijiga) in the 1977 War Between Ethiopia (video)
  3. ^ Nega Mezlekia, Notes from the Hyena's Belly, 2000, Picador USA