Armed attackers kill seven Djibouti soldiers, presidential adviser says


President of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, attends the opening session of the 35th ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union at the African Union Commission (AUC) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 5, 2022. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Seven Djiboutian troops have been killed in clashes between the army and an armed opposition group, a presidential adviser told Reuters on Saturday.

Djibouti, home to one of East Africa’s major ports as well as U.S. and Chinese military bases, has faced sporadic violence, usually sparked by protests against the government of President Ismail Omar Guelleh, whose party has a tight hold on power.

The latest attack in the north of the country was carried out on Thursday night by the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD), Alexis Mohamed, an adviser to Guelleh, told Reuters.

A spokesperson for FRUD, made up of members of the ethnic Afari community, denied being involved in the attack, and instead blamed a splinter group.

FRUD, formed in 1991, signed a peace deal with the government in 1994, when it split into two groups with one staying out of the accord.

Assailants attacked an army post in an area called Garabtissan in Tadjourah region on Thursday night, leading to the deaths and an unspecified number of injuries, Mohamed said.

“The barbaric act perpetrated … by a terrorist group against our army established in the north of the country will not go unpunished,” he said.

FRUD spokesperson Ibrahim Hamabou Hassan said in a statement the violence was “unjustifiable”, and accused an armed splinter group run by former military soldiers of carrying it out.

The last attack by FRUD was in January 2021, when one policeman was killed, Mohamed said.

Reporting by Giulia Paravicini Writing by Duncan Miriri Editing by Mark Potter