NAIROBI, Kenya ( Associated Press) — Witnesses in Ethiopia said on Sunday that an attack in the country’s Oromia region has killed more than 200 people, mostly Amhara ethnic, and blamed a rebel group that was involved in the attack. denies.
It is one of the deadliest attacks in recent memory as ethnic tensions continue to rage in Africa’s second most populous country.
“I have counted 230 bodies. I fear this is the deadliest attack against civilians we have seen in our lifetime,” Abdul-Seed Tahir, a resident of Gimbi County, told The Associated Press on Saturday after barely evading the attack. “We are burying them in mass graves, and we are still collecting bodies. The Confederate Army units have now arrived, but we fear the attacks may continue if they leave. ,
Another witness, who gave only his first name, Shambelle, for fear of his safety, said the local Amhara community is now desperately demanding to be relocated “before another round of mass murders occurs”. He said the ethnic Amhara who settled in resettlement programs about 30 years ago are now being “killed like chickens.”
Read more: Rights groups accuse Ethiopia of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Tigre region
Both witnesses blamed the Oromo Liberation Army for the attacks. In a statement, the Oromia regional government also blamed the OLA, saying the rebels “attacked after being unable to resist operations launched by (federal) security forces.”
Ola’s spokesman, Odaa Tarbii, denied the allegations.
“The attack you are referring to was carried out by the regime’s military and local militias as they withdrew from their camp in Gimbi following our recent attack,” he said in a message to the Associated Press. “They fled to an area called Tole, where they attacked the local population and destroyed their property as retaliation for their alleged support for Ola. Our fighters had not even reached the area when the attack took place. “
Ethiopia is experiencing widespread ethnic tensions in many regions, most of them over historical grievances and political tensions. The Amhara people, the second largest ethnic group among Ethiopia’s population of more than 110 million, have been frequently targeted in areas such as Oromia.
The government-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on Sunday called on the federal government to find a “permanent solution” to the killing of civilians and protect them from such attacks.