Ethiopian soldiers have traded fire with members of local government Security Forces in the country’s eastern Somali region after central authorities sought to arrest regional officials.
Residents said that the soldiers were deployed in the province’s capital Jijiga on Friday evening, bringing them into conflict with the Region’s paramilitary forces.
One of the residents said “We can still hear shots being fired. They have been taking place since the morning.”
Another resident also said “An Ethiopian Orthodox church had been burned down by a mob, while shops, hotels and banks remained closed.”
A third witness said “government soldiers had been deployed in the Region’s administration offices with the intention of arresting officials.”
It was not immediately clear why the government in Addis Ababa sought to apprehend them.
Ethiopia’s Somali region has been plagued by violence for the last two decades.
The government has fought the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front, ONLF since 1984, after the group launched its bid for secession of the region.
Since 2017, clashes along the province’s border with the Oromiya region have displaced tens of thousands of people.
The region’s officials have recently been accused by the government in Addis Ababa of perpetrating rights abuses.
Last month, Ethiopia fired senior prison officials. Thereafter, details emerged of torture and other abuses in a notorious prison.