Three people were left dead after Sunday’s intercommunal clashes in several parts of the capital Djibouti, between the ethnic Afar group, which straddles Djibouti’s borders with Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Isse, Djibouti’s other main ethnic group
“There were several extremely serious criminal acts. Houses were intentionally set on fire,” Lamisse Mohamed Said told public television, without giving any possible reason for the violence.
“Innocent people were gratuitously attacked,” she said.
Three people had died during the intercommunal fighting or after police intervened.
Interior Minister Said Nouh Hassan, in a televised speech broadcast overnight, referred to “events of a new magnitude” which he said was “intolerable”.
Residents spoke of a dozen killed, one saying a baker had been “lynched by Afar youths”.
Violence was said to have started in the Warabaley district, where Isse homes were torched, then spread to other areas. Many Afar neighbours fled their homes, fearing it would be set alight.
Calm had largely been restored Monday evening with a major security presence in some areas of the capital.
Following the violence in Djibouti several people were detained, the public prosecutor said. Similar violence has been reported in the last week of July in neighbouring Ethiopia.
Bordered by Somalia and opposite Yemen, Djibouti has remained stable in a volatile neighbourhood, drawing foreign military powers such as former colonial ruler France, the United States and China to establish bases there.
The country has, however, seen worsening press freedom and a crackdown on dissent as it has courted foreign interest.
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