JIGJIGA (Halbeeg News) – Thousands of non-Somalis living in Jigjiga town have started fleeing their homes after unrest spread in Ethiopia’s Eastern Somali region.
The federal government deployed hundreds of military soldiers to restore the stability in the town following the violence that broke out in the administrative capital of the Somali region, Jigjiga over the weekend.
Several non-Somali residents who spoke to BBC Amharic Service said the majority of non-Somali locals left the town after a wave of ethnic violence sparked in the recent days in the state.
Fighting between ethnic Somalis and Amhara continued in Jigjiga into Sunday and the better day of Monday as mobs from both Somali and non-Somali origin looted and burned down immense properties belonging Oromo, Amhara, and Somali communities.
The clashes forced thousands to seek refuge in an Ethiopian Orthodox church.
Early this week Some of the non-Somali and Somali people staged a protest against the looting of their shops and homes in weekend unrest.
“They blocked a road surrounding the church to demonstrate, before security forces arrived and began firing indiscriminately,” one resident of the town told Reuters.
The security forces trying to disband protesters shot dead four people and injured several others, a move human rights activists condemned.
Amid the violence, the region’s president Abdi Mohammed Omer stepped down late on Monday, state-owned media outlets said. The agencies did not offer any explanation for his resignation.
But earlier, government spokesman Ahmed Shide had said regional officials were stoking violence at a time when attempts were being made to address rights abuses in the region.
He said the officials claimed the government was illegally forcing them to resign, and that a regional paramilitary force had taken part in the attacks under their orders.
“Infrastructure was destroyed and civilians were subjected to killings and lootings. Religious centers were also attacked and banks looted,” he said at a news conference.