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Ethiopia Denies Oromo Rebels Claim 90 Soldiers Killed

Ethiopia denied a claim by a rebel group that 90 soldiers were killed in attacks in the country’s Oromia region in the past five weeks.

The Oromo Liberation Front said it killed 53 troops in the eastern part of the region between Nov. 10 and Nov. 17 and another 37 in an attack in Boke Tiko district on Oct. 21, said Beyan Asoba, a spokesman for the rebels, in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The claims are an “outright lie,” said Shimeles Kemal, a spokesman for the Communications Ministry. The army did not suffer any casualties in what Shimeles called a “mopping up” operation against a “disbanded and disarrayed” rebel force, he said in a phone interview from Addis Ababa, the capital, today.

The front, formed in 1973, wants self-determination for the Oromo people, who live in a large region in central Ethiopia. The rebels say the people have suffered a century of repression by successive governments of the Horn of Africa nation.

Kenya, which borders Ethiopia, said it recently conducted a successful operation against Oromo rebel fighters in the northeast of the country, the Daily Nation reported yesterday. Six people were arrested and weapons confiscated, the Nairobi- based newspaper said, citing Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode.

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