August 6, 2007 / 12:07 PM / 11 years ago

Two bombs in Ethiopia rebel region kill 1, wound 8

ADDIS ABABA, Aug 6 (Reuters) - One civilian was killed and eight wounded in two bomb blasts in Ethiopia’s remote Ogaden region, officials said on Monday, as Ogaden rebels and the government blamed each other for the explosions.

"Two suspects have been arrested," said a spokesman for Ethiopia’s information ministry who declined to be named.

He said the attacks, which occurred on Sunday, targeted a marketplace and a church in Ogaden’s capital Jijiga.

A senior adviser to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) of staging the blasts to discredit the government.

"The two incidents clearly indicate that the ONLF are trying to hide their continued slaughter of civilians," Simon Bereket told Reuters.

"Our defence forces will take appropriate measures targeting the terrorist group."

But ONLF’s London-based spokesman Abdirahman Mahdi denied the group’s involvement.

"We believe it’s the work ... of the security forces," he said without elaborating. "We have nothing to do with that. A church is a sacred place and we don’t desecrate sacred places."

He accused the government of arming civilians to form militias as a counter-insurgency strategy against the ONLF.

The rebels say they are fighting for greater autonomy for their home region which borders Somalia. Addis Ababa says they are a terrorist group supported by arch-foe Eritrea.

The ONLF attracted international attention in April when it raided a Chinese-run oil field, killing 74 people.

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