Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels denied on Monday they were behind a weekend explosion that killed four people at a hotel.
“ONLF firmly believes that the Ethiopian security forces or its cronies in the region are behind such an act which is intended to tarnish the legitimate national liberation struggle of the Ogaden people,” the rebels said in a statement.
Police blamed Sunday’s blast on “terrorists” and said they suspected the ONLF. An injured victim had died in hospital, police said, taking the death toll to four after the blast in Ethiopia’s southeastern Somali region.
The explosion was the latest violence in Ethiopia’s restive, outlying regions where various groups are fighting against the government. The government says they are sponsored by its enemies, principally Eritrea.
Since the middle of last year, the Ethiopian military has been waging an offensive against the separatist ONLF in the Somali region of the Horn of Africa nation.
Sunday’s explosion took place in Jijiga, capital of the arid region that borders lawless Somalia.
The ONLF was formed in 1984. Its aims have varied between full scale independence to joining a “Greater Somalia” to more autonomy within Ethiopia