By Cyrus Ombati
Nairobi, Kenya: Kenyan police are investigating alleged abduction of two top officials of Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) from outside a popular restaurant in Upper Hill, Nairobi.
The two who were identified as Mr Sulub Ahmed and Ali Hussein were members of the ONLF negotiation team that was in Nairobi for a proposed third round of talks.
Other officials said the two were members of ONLF central committee. ONLF officials who asked not to be named claimed security agencies from Ethiopia and Kenya were involved in the kidnapping.
They had been invited for a lunch date at a restaurant near TSC headquarters on Sunday afternoon when they were abducted by men who were in three waiting cars.
One of the cars, a black Toyota Prado was seized and detained at the Turbi police station on Monday but the two were missing amid speculation they had been taken across to Ethiopia.
Moyale OCPD Tom Atuti said there had been complaints of abduction of the two officials but they were yet to confirm who were behind it.
“The vehicle and driver are under police custody to establish if indeed he was involved in the alleged kidnapping of the officials,” said Atuti.
The ONLF officials who spoke in Nairobi said the two officials were invited by the Kenyan government for peace negotiations.
“This is not the first time that such an incident happens and we urge that the government of Kenya provides us with security. We do not know the fate of our officials but we know they were taken to Ethiopia,” said an official who asked not to be named.
He asked Kenya, which took the responsibility to be a neutral venue, and as a facilitator to investigate fully the incident and request the Ethiopian government to return the abductees.
Analysts say that this move may affect diplomatic negotiations between ONLF and Ethiopia brokered by Kenyan Government on 2012.
ONLF is a separatist rebel group fighting to make the region of Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia an independent state.
ONLF, established in 1984, demands for the autonomy of this region, and claimed responsibility for several attacks since the beginning of 2007 aimed at Ethiopian forces in the area, which the government considers a region under the new federal system.
There live nearly eight million people, mainly Somali. Because Ogaden is populated by many ethnic Somalis, the ONLF claims that Ethiopia is an occupying government.
However, the Ogaden people are represented in the Ethiopian government by a number of groups, including the opposition Somali People’s Democratic Party (SPDP).