27 C
Colombo

At least 200 civilians have been killed in western Ethiopia.

Published:

According to reports, a rights group, and local officials, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) killed at least 200 civilians in Ethiopia’s Oromia region on Saturday. According to a police officer, the majority of the victims are Amhara.

According to an Ethiopian Human Rights Commission statement, the attack on Gimbi was linked to fighting between government forces and the OLA (EHRC). According to the EHRC, the attack has left “scores of people injured, villages destroyed, and entire communities traumatized.”

The OLA, which last year joined forces with Tigrayan rebels against Ethiopia’s federal government in the country’s protracted conflict, has denied all allegations.

Odaa Tarbii, an OLA spokesman, stated on Sunday that the “Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s regime is “once again blaming the OLA for atrocities committed by its own retreating fighters.” “The Ethiopian government has designated the rebel group as a terror organization, and it is frequently accused of attacking civilians and targeting ethnic Amharas.

This is one of the worst atrocities to have occurred in Ethiopia since fighting erupted in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in 2020, when Abiy’s government and its allies from the neighboring Amhara region attempted to put down a rebellion led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Prior to Abiy’s ascension to power in 2018, the TPLF dominated Ethiopia’s government.

According to human rights groups, the ensuing civil war has seen both sides commit atrocities, and it risks dividing the ethnically diverse country. There is no evidence that the TPLF was involved in the attack on Saturday.

According to a local police officer involved in the response effort to Saturday’s incident, an attack occurred near Tole, a village within Gimbi, on Saturday, with the majority of the victims being Amhara. The officer spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to do so.

The assault came days after heavy fighting in the area between government security forces and the OLA, he said.

According to survivors and escapees, the attack began when members of the OLA attempted to cross through the village but were denied passage by local residents and some armed civilians.

A Tole resident who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation said he saw OLA militiamen walking down a main road on Saturday morning before dispersing towards neighboring villages. He added that government forces seen in Tole earlier in the week had left the area days before the attack.

According to the officer, responders were dispatched to the scene on Sunday to retrieve and bury bodies.

Federal forces have now secured the area, he added, but “residents continue to request immediate assistance due to security concerns in the area,” according to the EHRC.

According to a statement released on Sunday, the Oromia regional government also accused the OLA of attacking civilians after “being incapable of resisting attacks from security forces,” and vowed to intensify attacks on the group.

In a tweet on Monday, Prime Minister Abiy said that “attacks on innocent civilians and destruction of livelihoods by illegal and irregular forces are unacceptable.”

In a statement issued on Sunday, the EHRC’s head, Daniel Bekele, urged authorities to “ensure necessary measures for civilian protection” and “find a lasting solution to the problem.”

Ethiopia is an ethnically and religiously diverse country of approximately 110 million people who speak a variety of languages. Its two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and the Amhara, account for more than 60% of the population. Tigrayans, the third largest group, make up about 7% of the population.

Last week, Abiy announced that the Ethiopian government had formed a committee to negotiate with Tigrayan forces. The development represents a significant step forward in the two sides’ peace talks.

Related articles

Recent articles