(Following is a translation of a report by the BBC Amharic about the increasing number of ethnically targeted attacks in Western Oromia and the West Shoa Zone, published on the news website on February 15, 2022.)
Over the past three years, deaths and injuries, destruction of property, and forced displacement have been a regular occurrence in the four Wollega zones of Western Oromia. The wanton killings, destruction, and displacement by an armed group named the Sheni have spread out to the central parts of the country, the West Shoa Zone.
Residents say the militant group which calls itself the Oromo Liberation Army and designated as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government is now active in several areas of the West Shoa Zone, in addition to areas of the Wollega zones of Western Oromia and the Guji zone of Southern Oromia, where it has been operating for some time.
In the past few months, innocent Oromos and Amharas have been brutally murdered in an apparent ethnically targeted attack around Ambo, 125km west of Addis Ababa. Many families were displaced because their homes were burned down or destroyed.
Over the past few months, a large number of Amhara people have been killed and injured in attacks in the zone by the so-called Shene. Following this, a number of Oromos were killed in what was widely believed to be a retaliation attack, according to witnesses.
The Chando massacre
Chando is a village located in the West Shoa Nano district. It is blessed with abundant, fertile land which was why it was to be an appropriate place for the government to settle some eighty families from Wollo two decades ago. Relations between indigenous people and settlers have been peaceful ever since. However, on Tuesday, December 31, 2021, a tragic incident happened that marred peaceful relations. On Friday, gunmen shoot and killed twenty ethnic Amharas, including a one-half-year-old child boy, according to surviving family members.
Abebaw Mekonen is a resident in the Chando kebele and he lost fifteen family members in the shooting rampage. He says ”my wife and all our children, my brother and my sister both along with their children were killed. In sum, twenty-five people were killed. This has left me bereft and all alone.”
Abebaw says that the perpetrators were gunmen who came to the village who first finished off the local militia army in a thirty minutes shootout before turning their guns on innocent villagers targeting Amhara homes.
According to sources, the large contingent of gunmen first attacked a militia group who had sheltered in a primary school compound to guard the area and killed at least five of them. Abebaw who had fled to neighboring areas following the attack returned to the village a few days ago, but he did not find his children and his wife alive.
Another man tells how he lost his father in the December 31 massacre.
“In addition to our being Amhara, they targeted us because my brother was a local militia, responsible for security in the hamlet. There is also another militia member among the family of 15 persons massacred at Chando,” Jamal Musa said.
Similarly, Omar Ababaw lost five close family members, including his brother and sister, in the Chando massacre. He tells us that they had not been able to bury the bodies of the victims in a prescribed way and that they had to bury up to six victims in a common pit.
A few weeks after a group the government calls ‘Shene’ killed ethnic Amharas, gunmen who are thought to be Amharas have killed many Oromos in an act of revenge, members of families of those killed and local officials disclosed to the BBC.
Dano is a village bordering Nono Woreda.
In this village on January 31, 2022, Amhara gunmen opened fire and killed 13 Oromos natives and burned more than 97 houses, according to the vice administrator of Dano woreda.
The vice administrator Samuel Teshome told the BBC that on Monday, January 31 Amhara gunmen attacked some residents of Adila Dale kebele, killing 13 innocent people, saying “we will destroy Shene.”
Samuel added that over the last year, many people were killed and uprooted in connection by attacks by the Oromo Liberation Army.