(Bloomberg) — Authorities in Ethiopia’s gas-rich east imposed a curfew and banned public assemblies as 47 people including the former regional president were charged with alleged involvement in robbery and mass killings.

The restrictions in Jijiga, the capital of Somali state, will last at least three days as federal and local security forces hunt perpetrators of “politically instigated violence,” the region’s deputy security chief, Abdullahi Mahamed Abdi, said by phone.

It’s the latest upheaval in the Somali region, home to sizable natural gas reserves, where a new leader is battling to carry out Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s pledge of a political opening in Africa’s second-most populous nation. Violence erupted in late 2017 on the borders of Somali and Oromia regional states, forcing thousands of civilians to flee and eventually prompting a federal intervention.

Ex-President Abdi Mohamoud Omar and 46 others were charged Wednesday for allegedly backing a vigilante group in August. At least 58 people died that month in three days of violence, while a mass grave dating from before contained 200 victims, Ethiopia’s Fana Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday, citing an investigation by the Attorney General.

Abdi Mohamoud, who was deposed by Ethiopian federal troops in August, is already facing trial over his alleged involvement in human-rights abuses. Bloomberg hasn’t been able to contact his representatives for comment. His successor Mustafa Omer, who has vowed to reform a regime he’s accused of brutality, last week fired five members of his cabinet, alleging they had connections to the deposed leader.

Forty of the 47 accused haven’t been identified, and Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the cases. The vigilante group, identified as Heego, is also accused of robbing businesses and involvement in the deaths of members of non-Somali communities in August, Fana said.

 

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