The Ethiopian government has dismissed claims by Ogaden rebels to have captured seven towns in the oil rich Somali region located in south eastern of Ethiopia.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has reportedly claimed on Saturday that it has carried out a major offensive on government positions in seven strategic towns, inflicted defeats on government troops
Shimelis Kemal, a spokesman for Ethiopian government denied rebel's claims, saying there was no fighting between government forces and the rebels.
This terrorist group usually issue false statements. There was no fighting between them and government forces," he said.
Denying also the claims, Ethiopia's Information Minister Bereket Simon said there was no single town seized by the group.
On Saturday, ONLF said in a statement that its troops engaged with the government forces in two days of heavy fighting in seven towns, resulting the deaths of a 'significant number of Ethiopian troops'.
"The operation involved thousands of O.N.L.F troops and resulted in two days of heavy fighting. A significant number of Ethiopian troops have been killed and their military hardware captured or destroyed during this operation," it said.
Addis Ababa launched military operation in 2007 against the rebel group following a deadly attack on a Chinese oil exploration company in the region.
The ONLF group, which was founded in 1984, is fighting to make the oil-rich Somali region of Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia an independent state.