In a security message for US citizen issued today, United States of America embassy in Addis Ababa says that it is aware of intense fighting and gunfire in Harar, South Eastern Ethiopia.
“The U.S. Embassy is aware of reports that the main road from Addis Ababa to Jijiga has been blocked by security forces between the cities of Babile and Harar due to intense fighting including gunfire.”
The message added that Ethiopian Defense force, apparently by the time the message was posted on US embassy website, were arriving in the area.
The fighting was between Babile and Harar and there was road closure.
The embassy advised U.S citizens to avoid travel to the area, especially between the above-mentioned towns. The message further advised US citizens “…maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.” The embassy also advised citizens to monitor local media.
No further information is given regarding entities that are fighting Ethiopian government forces.
Ogaden National Liberation Front rebels have been active in the area but the front did issue any statement about any clashes with government forces.
Ethiopian government media outlets did not report any security incident in the area at this writing.
Meanwhile, wide spread strike across towns in Amhara and Oromia regions of Ethiopia is reported. Businesses remained close in many towns.
The immediate cause for the strikes in towns in the above mentioned two regions of Ethiopia is related to tax hikes. The government introduced new taxes on small business as high as 400 percent, in some instances, of what small business owners used to pay.
But the basic cause is more multi-faceted discontentment with the government which many Ethiopians associate with corruption, incompetence, and minority ethnic-supremacist elite within the dominant Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
The country has been under a state of emergency since last year after more than 500 civilians were killed and more than 20,000 Ethiopians detained in make shift camps.
On Agust 7, residents in the city of Bahir Dar carried out a stay at home strike in remembrance of peaceful protesters killed by snipers
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