By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
January 28, 2016 (MANDA/ ETHIOPIA) – An Eritrean rebel group known as the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) claimed on Thursday that killed six government intelligence agents in an early morning strike on forces loyal to president Isaias Afeworki.
- Fighters of the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization at the frontline January 26, 2016 (ST Photo)
The rebel group’s leader, Ibrahim Haron told Sudan Tribune the attack was carried out against a military garrison within the northern Red Sea region.
Ibrahim, the commander in chief of the RSADO forces, said the military camp belonged to the 15th sub-division’s third battalion intelligence unit.
He said many other intelligence personnel were allegedly also wounded during the strike and various types of military hardware were captured.
“Our gallant forces have completely destroyed the military camp”, said Ibrahim.
After the “surprise” attack, the rebel leader claimed the remaining dozens of Eritrean soldiers “went in disarray leaving behind their weapons”.
The latest assault was reportedly in retaliation to the 15th sub-division intelligence unit’s different forms of oppression against ethnic Afar minorities residing around Alhan area.
There is no an immediate comment by the Eritrean government over the alleged attacks but Asmara has, in the past, repeatedly denied such attack claims mainly carried out by the Ibrahim-led rebel movement.
The Ethiopia-based Afar rebel group says the ethnic Afar Eritreans are being persecuted by Eritrea and it would continue military attacks until the rights and self-determination of the Afar people are guaranteed.
Meanwhile, the RSADO on Wednesday concluded a conference it held in Ethiopia Afar region’s Manda town in connection with its 17th anniversary.
The conference condemned Eritrea’s role in the ongoing Saudi-led offensive against Yemen’s Shiite militant Houthi group.
The East African nation recently announced that it was joining the Saudi-led Arab coalition to boost the ongoing Saudi Arabia’s military campaign.
Asmara said it will be sending hundreds of its troops to join the Arab alliance and it will also allow its airspace, its port, and territorial waters for the coalition forces to easily carryout offensives against the rebel positions.
In exchange for its contribution, Eritrea will be benefited with robust financial and other types of economic aid package from Riyadh.
RSADO officials said the arrangement made with Saudi violates the Security Council resolutions, which were imposed against the country.
They claim the Eritrean dictatorial regime will use the financial compensation to repress and terrorize its people to sustain grip on power.
Participants further said those hefty compensation packages could be diverted and used to destabilize the volatile horn region citing to negative roles Eritrea was playing in the region particularly in Somalia.
In 2009, the UN Security Council slapped sanctions on Eritrea for financing and aiding al-Qaida allied Islamist militants in Somalia.
The conference has also condemned remarks made by president Afeworki last week when he dismissed food crises concerns despite Elino induced drought forcing millions to depend on food aid across East Africa.
The long-time Eritrean leader said his country doesn’t have any food problems and the country won’t face any food crisis despite the fact of reduced agricultural output.
He said this was because of the Government of Eritrea’s “judicious policy and its approach to bolstering its strategic food reserves”
However the UN has warned that Eritrea was among the regional states which are at risk of food crises.
RSADO said the president’s remarks were completely contrary to what’s happening on ground.
The rebel official said people particularly in the Afar region are dying of causes related to chronic hunger and hunger-related diseases.
They added thousands of people most children and mothers in the Afar region are affected by malnutrition and are at imminent risk of death.
Ibrahim appealed on the international community to intervene on the situation and put pressure on the Eritrean government to allow foreign aid before the crises worsens.
Eritrea has increasingly restricted operations of NGOs and foreign aid agencies forcing most to leave the secretive nation which is painted as a pariah state by African and Western powers.
RSADO has long been accusing the Eritrean government of ethnic cleansing against Afar minorities.
Asmara suspects Eritrean Afars of being aligned to Ethiopia and having links to fellow Afar tribes in Ethiopia.
Ibrahim said President Afeworki’s denial over the food crises is a system the government is deliberately using to block aid to the region and punish the Afars by starving them to death.
RSADO - which is seen as militarily stronger than other Eritrean opposition groups - vow to step up its armed struggle to oust the regime.