By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne
Addis Abeba, April 1, 2021 – The Oromia regional state government said in a statement that it has taken measures on militias behind the latest attack on civilians which took place in West Wollega Zone, Babo Genbel Woreda, Bone Kebelle. Admitting the violent attacks, the regional government was the first to announce the killing of “unknown numbers” of civilians through its communication bureau official facebook page. The regional government also stated that it has taken measures on the Oromo Liberation Army (often referred by the government as OLF/Shene), which it accused of “executing TPLF’s mission” in creating chaos across the country.
Communication in the area where the attacks took place has been disabled but activist accounts put out varying numbers of casualities ranging from 130 to 200
“In addition to destroying public properties, this armed group has taken the lives of government officials ranging from regionals to Kebele administrators,” read the statement by the Oromia regional state government.
Communication in the area where the attacks took place has been disabled but activist accounts put out varying numbers of casualities ranging from 130 to 200 but the Commissioner of Oromia regional state police commision, Commissioner Ararsa Merdasa, announced that the victims were 16 men and 12 women bringing the total number of victims to 28. Commissioner Ararsa also described the attack as “mass killing,” and said, “about 50 people were rounded up and shot; 12 people were injured and were admitted to hospital.”
According to Ararsa, Oromia special Forces were an hour away and were able quell the attacks and kill three of the assailants. “The police helped with burials and took the injured people to the hospital,” he asserted.
But the commissioner’s statement about the participation of Oromia Police in the burials is contrary to other accounts, including the one by the Amhara Mass Media Agency (AMMA), which cited eye witnesses who described that Oromia police forces refused to intervene saying they didn’t receive instructions to do so. Amhara region also says the attacks were targetted at members of the Amhara community living in the area.
“A strongly worded statement released by Amhara Academicians’ Council today and was published by AMMA warned that the “ethnic cleasing” of Amahars amount to “international crimes.” “
Amhara Academicians’ Council
A strongly worded statement released by Amhara Academicians’ Council today and was published by AMMA warned that the “ethnic cleasing” of Amahars amount to “international crimes.” The Council blamed the Oromia and federal governments for not doing enough to prevent repeated attacks on Amhara civilians “by rebles and agents hiding inside both administrations.”
“We shall stand in union to defeat Ethiopia’s enemies and make sure that they do not rise again”
Ararso disputed the accusations that the attacks target Amharas only. “80% of the victims of OLF/Shane are ethnic Oromos,” he blamed “the group is working to create conflicts between the Oromo and Amhara community,” he said.
Attacks claiming the lives of civilians have become all too familiar scene, followed by increasing war of words between Oromia and Amhara ruling parties, and the conflicting narratives arising in the wake particularily about the identities of the victims and the nature of the attacks.
In response to the statement by Oromia Police Commission, the Amhara Regional government has today discredited his claims both about the number of deaths, nature of attacks and the said interventions by Oromia police. The region’s broadcaster, Amhara Mass Media Agency(AMMA) quoted residents of Babo Genbel Woreda as saying, “We haven’t seen any measure taken on the assailants.” The residents also asked for an increase in the presence of security forces in the area. Tension remained high, the residents say.
In a statement released today, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed condemned yesterday’s attacks and said “retaliatory measures” against the perpetrators were underway using both regional and federal security forces in all areas where such attacks are taking place. The PM called on people to cooperate with security forces to bring the perpetrators to justice and to put an end to such killings. “We shall stand in union to defeat Ethiopia’s enemies and make sure that they do not rise again,” PM Abiy said without mentioning the alleged perpetrators.
However, what both regional states seem to agree on is the alleged perpetrators of the killings: both blame the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) referred to in their correspondences as ‘OLF/Shane.’
OLA denies accusations
OLA has repeatidly denied its involvement. This week OLA-West Commander Diriba “Maroo” Kumsa has appeared on Aljazeera English where he denied the group’s involvement in the said killings and called for an “independent investigation” into the attacks; he also expressed readiness to collaborate, and accuseed the federal and regional governments of failing to protect civilians, a case he used to assert that Ethiopia was “a failed state.”
“We once again suggest you reach out to the residents of Horo Guduru and ask them who Faqadaa Abdiisaa is and who sent him and his militia into Horo Guduru.”
In a similar response to a previous accusation, the group issued a statement denying its involvement and instead blaming a different group for carrying out the attacks in its name. “We have explained in a previous communique what the situation in Horo Guduru is. We once again suggest you reach out to the residents of Horo Guduru and ask them who Faqadaa Abdiisaa is and who sent him and his militia into Horo Guduru. As we have said time and time again, we do not target anyone based on ethnicity or religion. As you report stated, the victims were Orthodox Christians and it should be noted that the vast majority of our forces in Horo Guduru are Orthodox Christians themselves. Furthermore, as stated before, our troops face stiff penalties for killing civilians; there is no tolerance for such acts”, OLA said in a statement sent to Addis Standard. The group’s reaction was to yet another killing on March 09 of 29 people who were members of the Amhara community in East wollega zone, Oromia regional state.
Oromia regional state, where most of these attacks occur, has so far failed both to stop the killings and offer alternative explanations for the loss of hundreds civilians most notably members of the Amhara community. However, it has increased its crackdown on civilians in different parts of the region and promises to exterminate the OLA. AS