The United States embassy in Ethiopia has reported of intense gunfire between two cities leaving a main road linking the capital and another town blocked.
A statement released by the embassy read: “The U.S. Embassy is aware of reports that the main road from Addis Ababa to Jijiga has been blocked by security forces between the cities of Babile and Harar due to intense fighting including gunfire.”
They added that even though Ethiopian Defense Force troops were arriving in the area, the road in question was not passable. The cause of the clashes is not yet known.
The U.S. Embassy is aware of reports that the main road from Addis Ababa to Jijiga has been blocked by security forces between the cities of Babile and Harar due to intense fighting including gunfire.
They further cautioned citizens on travel to the above mentioned areas. “Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”
The US remains one of the few countries that have maintained their travel advisory for Ethiopia despite the lifting of a 10-month state of emergency imposed last October.
The U.S. State Department on December 6, 2016 warned its citizens “of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest related to sporadic and unpredictable anti-government protests that began in November 2015.” It also spoke about how curfew rules had hampered its activities.
Between December and the latest security message, the US embassy has issued four alerts to its citizens.
One of the towns where the clashes have been reported, Babille, is in eastern Ethiopia. It is believed to have been named after one of the 12 major clans of the Oromo people, it is located in the Oromia Region, 30 kilometers east of Harar.
Harar, also located in eastern Ethiopia is known as the ‘Mecca of Africa’. It’s surrounded by a centuries-old defensive wall that has several large gates. The city is known for its mazelike alleys and traditional houses decorated inside with flat hanging baskets. A holy Islamic city, Harar has many mosques, including the Grand Jami Mosque with its tall white minarets.