Ethiopian rebels say they kill 43 govt troops – By Tsegaye Tadesse

July 4th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

ADDIS ABABA, July 3 (Reuters) – Rebels in Ethiopia’s remote eastern Ogaden region on Tuesday said they had killed 43 government soldiers in an ambush on a military convoy. (more…)

ADDIS ABABA, July 3 (Reuters) – Rebels in Ethiopia’s remote eastern Ogaden region on Tuesday said they had killed 43 government soldiers in an ambush on a military convoy.

The government declined to comment on the reported clash, which the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels said took place near Shilaabo town on Monday.

There was no independent confirmation of the clash.

“The bodies of 43 TPLF regime troops were counted on the battlefield after the operation,” the ONLF said in a statement, referring to government soldiers. Five ONLF died, it said.

“The surprise attack ambushed a convoy consisting of over 20 armed vehicles and trucks carrying fuel, armaments and troop reinforcements to TPLF regime forces based in Shilaabo and other parts of eastern Ogaden.”

Last month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced a crackdown on the ONLF, which drew global attention in April when it killed 74 people in a raid on a Chinese-run oil field.

The government says the ONLF, one of several guerrilla groups fighting Meles’ government from remote corners of the vast nation, are terrorists supported by arch-foe Eritrea.

The ONLF says it wants more autonomy for its underdeveloped region on the border with Somalia in the Horn of Africa. Last week, it accused the government of using warplanes to bomb three villages, killing about 40 people. The government denied it.

In its statement on Tuesday, the ONLF said it captured 35 government troops and a “wide range” of weapons and munitions.

It said “battlefield engagements” with government forces over the last three weeks have killed 247 government soldiers, but it was not possible to verify that independently. The rebels said 38 of their members had been killed in the same period.

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