NAIROBI, Kenya – Witnesses in Ethiopia said Sunday that more than 200 people, mostly ethnic Amhara, have been killed in an attack in the country’s Oromia region, blaming a rebel group that denies it.
It is one of the deadliest such attacks in recent times as ethnic tensions continue in Africa’s second most populous country.
“I have counted 230 corpses. I am afraid this is the deadliest attack on civilians we have seen in our lifetime,” Abdul-Seid Tahir, a resident of Gimbi County, told the Associated Press after he distressed and hardly escaped the attack on Saturday. “We are burying them in mass graves and we are still collecting corpses. Federal armies have now arrived, but we fear the attacks may continue if they leave.”
Another witness, who gave only his first name, Shambel, out of fear for his safety, said the local Amhara community is now desperately seeking to be relocated, “before another round of mass killings takes place.” He said ethnic Amhara, who settled in the area about 30 years ago in resettlement programs, are now being “killed like chickens.”
Both witnesses blamed the Oromo Liberation Army for the attacks. In a statement, the regional government of Oromia also blamed the OLA, saying the rebels attacked “after being unable to resist the operations launched by (federal) security forces.”
An OLA spokeswoman, Odaa Tarbii, denied the allegations.
“The attack you are referring to was committed by the regime’s military and local militia as they withdrew from their camp in Gimbi following our recent offensive,” he said in a message to the AP. “They fled to an area called Tole, where they attacked the local population and destroyed their property in retaliation for their alleged support for the OLA. Our warriors had not even reached the area when the attacks took place.”
Ethiopia is experiencing widespread ethnic tensions in several regions, most of them due to historical complaints and political tensions. The Amhara people, the second largest ethnic group among Ethiopia’s more than 110 million inhabitants, have often been targeted in regions such as Oromia.
The government-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on Sunday called on the federal government to find a “lasting solution” to the killing of civilians and protect them from such attacks.
More than 200 killed in attacks in Ethiopia, witnesses say: NPR
Source link More than 200 killed in attacks in Ethiopia, witnesses say: NPR