Ethiopia claims surrender of rebel Ogaden leader

October 18, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Ethiopia announced on Saturday that a top rebel leader in the restive Ogaden region had surrendered, leading to the seizure of some four tonnes of explosive material.

“Over 37 quintals of chemicals, which the self-styled Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) kept to produce explosives, were seized in Somali Regional State,” the Ethiopian News Agency said.

The official agency said that the seizure came after “ONLF military affairs coordinator in Warder and Korahe zones, Abdi Mohammed Awhasen” surrendered on October 3.

ENA also said 7,000 bullets were seized from an ONLF cache.

The agency claimed that Abdi Mohammed Awhasen had surrendered after refusing to carry out an operation ordered jointly by another rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front, Eritrea, and Somalia’s Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab organisation.

The ONLF, founded in 1984 to fight for the independence of ethnic Somalis in the oil-rich Ogaden region, has repeatedly denied links with the extremist Shebab, who control large swathes of neighbouring Somalia.

In April, the Ethiopian government claimed that the ONLF was on its last legs following a broad military operation launched in 2007.