Ethiopia sending troops to region of deadly ethnic clashes

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Ethiopian Federal Police carry foam mats as they ride through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Friday May 21, 2010. Voters have been intimidated and opposition candidates harassed ahead of Ethiopia's national elections on Sunday May 23, 2010, opposition members say, a vote likely to propel the current prime minister, a U.S. ally into a second decade of power. Opposition leaders say they worry this year's election may turn into a repeat of 2005's contentious poll which was capped by the arrest of about 100 opposition politicians and activists who challenged the results. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Ethiopia’s government said Friday it is sending troops to a region where deadly clashes have broken out between Oromo and Somali ethnic groups.

Somali regional officials say more than 50 people were killed in an attack against ethnic Somalis in the Oromia town of Aweday on Tuesday. Oromia regional officials say 18 were killed.

“People were killed using sharp objects only because they were ethnic Somalis,” the Somali region’s president, Abdi Mohamed Omer, was quoted by his spokesman’s office as saying during a burial ceremony Friday for some of the victims.

Omer has accused Oromia regional officials of not preventing the killings.

Oromia regional spokesman Addisu Arega called the accusations “shameful” and said in a Facebook post Thursday that the fighting was sparked when three Oromos were killed by the Somali region’s special police earlier this month. He said around 200 people were arrested after the violence.

Border disputes between the two ethnic groups are common. Though they agreed to reconcile their differences in April, conflicts have flared in many locations since then.

Government spokesman Negeri Lencho told reporters that forces were being deployed to areas that experienced the worst clashes, and a group has been sent to the region to assess possible human rights violations.

The spokesman declined to give a number of people killed in the fighting.

The Somali region is facing one of Ethiopia’s worst droughts in years.

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