Why Ethiopia’s Oromo Are Angry At KTN

With my Cameraman Eric Okoth covering OLF rebels in Southern Ethiopia in 2009

July 16, 2014 (Scribles by Yassin ) — The arrest of foreign assassins after serial killings and terror attacks in a frontier town like Garissa at a time when Kenya is facing a myriad of insecurity incidents has indeed all the characters of a “juicy” story that would sell good for any journalist.

And that is exactly what one Kenya based correspondent for the Chinese state news agency Xinhua realised. But only to realize later that he had made a major blander in asserting who the suspected assassins were angering Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo nation.

Monday, July 14, 2014, NAIROBI (Xinhua) — The Kenyan police said Sunday they have arrested five key suspects behind a spate of insecurity which has rocked the northern Kenya, particularly Garissa town, scarred by previous terrorist attacks.

Detectives have also released identities of the serial killers who have claimed five lives within two months. Regional Criminal Investigation Department commander Musa Yego told Xinhua that the police are interrogating three Ethiopians and two Kenyans in the last two days with regards to bomb and grenade attacks in Garissa town.

“We are happy that we have made a breakthrough to unravel unexplained killings that have thrown our town into security scare in the last two months,” Yego said.

“Among those arrested are three Ethiopian suspected to be from the Somali region (Ethiopia), while two others were Kenyans, a taxi driver and a landlord,” he added.

Yego said the taxi driver was helping to transport the killers to their destination during their killing spree in the town, while the landlord had been giving accommodation to the foreign criminals by renting his houses to them without informing the security agencies of their illegal presence in the country.

The investigators are being helped with investigation by one of the assailants, who was arrested last Wednesday by members of the public shortly after killing a prominent businessman along Gulled hotel area.

Yego said the police have recovered some vital documents, including an Ethiopian passport and communication tracks, that indicates there are teams of people believed to be security officials from the Somali region of Ethiopia sneaking into the country through Moyale and Mandera border points on a mission to kill people they suspect to have associations with a rebel group back at home and cause tribal clashes in the county.

“The passport carried by the suspected killer who was arrested in Garissa briefly after killing a businessman indicates he entered the country through Moyale border before heading to Nairobi, where we believe he met some people, before traveling to Garissa to cause a felony,” he noted.

Yego urged the residents in northeast region to be on the look out and avoid embracing people from other countries and giving them accommodation without first establishing their motive in the country.
Two of the assassins, Khalif Hassan, 38, and Abdirahman Abdi, 40, who are the team leaders are among those in custody at Garissa police station now.

While speaking to Xinhua on phone from London, the Oromo National Liberation Front (ONLF) foreign secretary Abdirahman Sheikh Mahdi blamed the attacks in Garissa on Ethiopian intelligence officers of changing their tactics to fight them by carrying out criminal activities inside friendly country to discredit them.

“They want to carry out killings inside Kenya and in turn blame on us so that Kenya, which has been hosting hundreds of thousands of our refugees and asylum seekers, can turn hostile against our people,” he said.

Source: Xinhua

I have no problems with the report until the correspondent quotes someone he says is the Oromo National Liberation Front (ONLF) foreign secretary Abdirahman Sheikh Mahdi.

The first question any one familiar with Ethiopian politics would ask is if there is any political group by the name of Oromo National Liberation Front (ONLF) in Ethiopia ?

Hell no. As far as my memory serves me good I never heard of an Ethiopian political group going by the name the Oromo National Liberation Front.

It is clear that the correspondent must have gotten himself mixed up with the acronyms ONLF. The only ONLF I know is the OGADEN National Liberation Front which has been fighting for the self determination of the Somali region or Region 5 or Ogaden in Ethiopia

Ethiopia's Oromo Liberation Front OLF rebels

Xinhua however was not far from the truth in suggesting through London based Mahdi’s quote and that of the Kenya police that they suspect the assassins had been sent by Ethiopian authorities.

There was a rush for the story by the local media after the Xinhua scoop … but the local media just messed up with the facts reporting a sensitive issue in reckless manner.

This is how The Star read by “Smart people” reported the story.

Garissa county commissioner Rashid Khator has once again warned suspected assassins and their accomplices from neighbouring Ethiopia behind recent killings in Garissa that the government will firmly deal with them.

Khator said the hit men are hired to carry out assassinations in Garissa because they don’t support the government of the day in their country (Ethiopia) will not be tolerated.

The rebels who are opposing the government are from Oromo Liberation Front[OLF]. His warning comes just two days after the arrest of one of the killers who has been carrying out attacks in the town.

The man was cornered and handed over to the police by members of the public after as he fled after killing a businessman in the town. Two of his accomplices escaped.

Khator said that the suspect was providing crucial information that will assist apprehend his accomplices and also nail those behind the attacks.

Khator who was speaking during a peace meeting held at Garissa primary playground urged members of the public to continue cooperating with the police to end the insecurity bedeviling the town.

By Jacob Songok

The Star suggests that its the Oromo Liberation Front members been targeted by the assassins.

And KTN reports that those arrested are actually Oromo rebels! Check out the intro to this story.

5 suspected members of the Oromo Liberation Front have been arrested in Garissa County. The suspects were found in possession of illegal arms smuggled in from Ethiopia. Police investigations have linked the five to the deaths of three Ethiopian businessmen in the past three months. County leaders are now saying they are determined to flashout anyone with links to the rebel group.

The Garissa Commissioner’s sound byte in Swahili does not in anyway suggest that those arrested are Oromo rebels but the intro is read by Anchor Bonny Tunya in so much gusto that you would believe its the Gospel Truth.

Now let me put the facts right for KTN. First, Garissa and Oromo, the two just don’t add up! As a journalist who has covered the Oromos and their self determination struggle if you are to get an Oromo in Kenya Garissa would be the last place …you should be talking of Moyale, Marsabit, Isiolo, Eastleigh and Kariobangi.

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Abdi Oromo an OLF rebel fighter

Some history and geography lessons for KTN. Garissa is a hundred percent ethnic Somali town. The Majority clan is the Ogaden…get it? Ogaden clan. The Ogaden in Kenya from which top Kenyan politicians like Aden Dualle, Farah Maalim, Yusuf Hajji, General Mahmud Mohamed hail from are related and have close links to the Ogaden Somalis living in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. They are one clan.

The Ogaden have been waging an insurgency in Ethiopia for decades and its no secret that some of its leaders have made Garissa and Eastleigh their homes fleeing Ethiopian authorities. So the ONLF referred by Xinhua and KTN are not Oromo rebels but actually the ethnic Somali Ogaden National Liberation Front. And the acronym for the Oromo rebels is OLF Oromo Liberation Front not ONLF

KTN its beats logic that rebels who have fled to Garissa for safety are again turning guns on each other or killing the locals. These are the facts am giving for free.

  1. Yes, some of the The Ogaden National Liberation Front leaders are present in Kenya for their safety no they have been no reported incident of them having trouble with the authorities as the KTN report indicated
  2. Its an open secret that Ethiopia has been assassinating dissidents from the ONLF and OLF right here in Kenya so in this instance the five arrested by Kenyan authorities are actually assassins sent by the Ethiopian government to gun down ONLF rebel leaders in Garissa. The Garissa PoliceBoss Yego is clear in the Xinhua report that Kenya will not entertain the assassination of people within our borders just because they are dissidents in their country

C’mon KTN …that short story as much as you wouldn’t want to acknowledge has created ripples among the Oromo in Ethiopia and the Diaspora who perceive the OLF as their liberator. There has been a major uproar and condemnation on KTN with some suggesting that there may be an anti Oromo agenda by the respected media house and reputable media house but this report raised a lot of answered questions about its reputation in the media circles and the Oromo people.

It’s a sensitive matter touching on the country’s security and should have been treated with the sensitivity it deserves not reckless reporting. Somebody needs to apologise to Somebody..

I suggest to save their faces KTN, Xinhua and The Star should try do a story on the unreported assassinations of political dissidents by Ethiopian spy agents right here in Kenya.

Source: Scribles by Yassin

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