200 Civilians Killed in Western Ethiopia, According to reports, a rights group, and local officials, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) slaughtered 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 combat between government forces and the OLA (EHRC). According to the EHRC, the attack has left “scores of people maimed, towns damaged, 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 refuted the claims. According to OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbii, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s “government” is “again accusing the OLA of crimes committed by its fleeing forces.”
The Ethiopian government has branded the rebel group as a terror organization, and it is routinely accused of attacking civilians and targeting ethnic Amharas.
This is one of the biggest tragedies to have occurred in Ethiopia since war erupted in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray area in 2020 when Abiy’s administration and its supporters from the neighboring Amhara region attempted to put down a rebellion led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Before Abiy’s ascension to power in 2018, the TPLF ruled 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 engaged in the attack on Saturday.
According to local police officers involved in the reaction effort to Saturday’s incident, an attack occurred near Tole, a community within Gimbi, on Saturday, with the bulk of the casualties being Amhara. The officer spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to do so.
The assault came days after fierce fighting in the area between government security troops and the OLA, he claimed.
According to survivors and escapees, the attack began when members of the OLA sought to travel through the village but were denied entry by local inhabitants and some armed citizens.
A Tole resident who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation said he witnessed OLA fighters going down the main route on Saturday morning before dispersing towards adjacent communities. He said that government personnel spotted in Tole earlier in the week had left the area days before the incident.
According to the officer, rescuers were dispatched to the location on Sunday to remove and bury bodies.
Federal authorities have now controlled the area, he continued, but “residents continue to request rapid help owing 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 targeting civilians after “being incapable of resisting attacks from security forces,” and threatened to intensify attacks on the group.
In a tweet on Monday, Prime Minister Abiy warned that “attacks on innocent citizens and destruction of livelihoods by illegal and irregular forces are unacceptable.” on the 200 Civilians Killed in Western Ethiopia.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the EHRC’s head, Daniel Bekele, urged authorities to “provide appropriate steps for civilian protection” and “find a durable solution to the problem.”
Ethiopia is an ethnically and religiously diverse country of around 110 million people who speak a variety of languages. Its two major 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 said that the Ethiopian government has constituted a committee to engage with Tigrayan forces. The development is a huge step forward in the two sides’ peace talks.
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