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Ethiopia: Gunmen killed at least 17 people,wounded 34 in Afar region

Armed groups whose motives are not yet identified attacked civilians in Afar region of Ethiopia but it is established that attackers used Somali region special forces uniform and Djibouti Defense Force uniform

At least 17 were killed and 34 others wounded after heavily armed gunmen opened fire in Asaita and Dubti area of Afar region. The attack happened on Saturday in Afambo district in Oblo locality.

District administration head, Hussien Ali, told VOA Amharic service that on Saturday around 4 a.m. in the morning Somali Special Forces and Issa tribe from Djibouti opened a coordinated attack on civilians in the region. “They used a rocket launchers, machine guns, and bombs. Elders and women are killed in the attack,” he added. The number of women killed in the attack is said to be 4.

One of the victims is a 6 months old baby, according to the source.

Those who sustained wounds are hospitalized in Asaita and Dubti hospitals while some are referred to Mekele Hospital. It is unclear if their condition is life-threatening or not.

There seems to be a conflicting report about a number of people killed in the attack.  The region’s police crime prevention deputy commissioner, Ahmed Humed, has reportedly told local news sources that the death toll is 16.

“We’ve never seen such an incident at this scale before where many civilians lost their lives. We are still investigating who these armed men are,” he said as quoted by Reuters.

Afar community members in the area launched a counter-attack and ten of the armed men are killed according to the district head who spoke to VOA news.

The motives of the attackers are not yet established.  What is known so far based information reportedly collected from the attackers who were killed during counter-attack measure is that they used Somali region special forces uniform and Djibouti defense force uniform. In addition to the uniform, a Djiboutian ID and Somali region ID is recorded from the attackers.

An eyewitness who claimed to be among the first responders to help the victims told VOA Amharic that a vehicle with Somaliland plate number is recovered.

He also said that a vehicle that carried Djiboutian soldiers was attacked by Afar people and the vehicle was burned.

Kontie Mousa is leader of Afar People’s Party. Asked if the “horrible news” about the attack is true on Twitter on Sunday October 13, he said “Horrible indeed & the news is true. We’ve been appealing to the government of Ethiopia to stop the aggression on Afars supported by neighbouring states and terror groups but the negligence continues.”

Apparently, there was a report about the invasion of the Djiboutian army, and the Ethiopian Defense Force has issued a statement on Monday dismissing the report.

“Circulating information that Djibouti Defense Force crossed the Ethiopian border to Afar region and inflicted attack is false,” it was said.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) cited Colonel Tesfaye from the Defense Force as saying that the state of relations between Ethiopia and Djibouti is a strong one and there is no concrete reason that could bring the two countries into a clash.