At least 200 civilians killed in western Ethiopia, say reports and officials

The attack on the town of Gimbi was connected to fighting between government forces and the OLA, according to a statement from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC told CNN Monday that the assault has left “scores of people injured, villages destroyed, and entire communities traumatized.”

The OLA — which last year aligned with Tigrayan rebel forces against Ethiopia’s federal government in the country’s protracted conflict — has denied all the allegations. OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbii said Sunday that the “regime” of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed “is again blaming the OLA for atrocities committed by its own retreating fighters.”

The rebel group has been designated as a terror organization by the Ethiopian government, and it is frequently accused of attacking civilians and targeting ethnic Amharas.

This incident is among the worst atrocities to hit the country since fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in 2020, when Abiy’s government and its allies from the neighboring Amhara region tried to suppress a rebellion by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The TPLF dominated Ethiopia’s government prior to Abiy’s rise to power in 2018.

The ensuing civil war has seen both sides carry out atrocities, according to human rights groups, and risks splitting the ethnically diverse country. There is no suggestion TPLF was involved in Saturday’s attack.

A local police officer involved in the response effort to Saturday’s incident told CNN ​that an attack happened near Tole, a village within Gimbi, on Saturday, with the majority of the victims belonging to the Amhara ethnic group. The police officer spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

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

Survivors and escapees told the police officer that the attack started when members of the OLA attempted to cross through the village but were denied passage by local residents and some armed civilians.

A resident of Tole, who only spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said he saw OLA militiamen walking down a main road on Saturday morning before dispersing towards neighboring villages. Government forces, who were seen in Tole earlier in the week, had left the area days before the attack, he added.

The police officer said responders were sent to the scene on Sunday to retrieve and bury bodies.

Federal forces have now secured the area, he added, but “residents are still asking for immediate assistance due to security concerns in the area,” the EHRC said.

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

Prime Minister Abiy said the “attacks on innocent civilians & destruction of livelihoods by illegal and irregular forces is unacceptable,” in a tweet on Monday.

The head of the EHRC, Daniel Bekele, urged authorities to “ensure necessary measures for protection of civilians,” and “find a lasting solution to the problem,” in a statement from the commission on Sunday.

Ethiopia is an ethnically and religiously diverse nation of about 110 million people who speak numerous different languages. Its two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara, make up more than 60% of the population. The Tigrayans, the third largest, are around 7%.

Last week, Abiy said the Ethiopian government has formed a committee to negotiate with forces from the Tigray region. The development marks a significant step towards peace negotiations between the two sides.

Source link

Latest

South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Wednesday 29 June 2022

We’ve got all the latest news stories and headlines...

“Grow up”: Teen backed for brutal takedown of “deadbeat” older brother

Members of a popular internet forum were quick to...

The invisible backbone of Europe’s e-commerce

Picture this: you’ve got your eye on a last-minute...

Ukraine’s first lady says her country ‘cannot see the end of our suffering’

"It's very difficult to hold on for five months," Zelenska told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "We need to accumulate our strength, we need to save...

Former Nazi Guard, 101, Jailed In Germany For Aiding Murder

BERLIN (AP) — A 101-year-old man was convicted in Germany of more than 3,500 counts of accessory to murder on Tuesday for serving at...

The UK government has taken a stake in a sex party startup

A government loan provided to Killing Kittens to help it through the pandemic has converted into an equity stake in the company, the British...