More than 200 people, mostly from ethnic Amhara, have been killed in Ethiopia's Oromia region in an attack being blamed on a rebel group known as Oromo Liberation Army.
More than 200 people, mostly ethnic Amhara, have been killed in an attack in Ethiopia's Oromia region, witnesses say, blaming a rebel group, which denies it.
Saturday's attack is one of the deadliest in recent memory as ethnic tensions continue in Africa’s second most populous country.
“I have counted 230 bodies. I am afraid this is the deadliest attack against civilians we have seen in our lifetime,” Abdul-Seid Tahir, a resident of Gimbi county, told AP news agency after barely escaping the attack.
“We are burying them in mass graves, and we are still collecting bodies. Federal army units have now arrived, but we fear that the attacks could continue if they leave.”
Another witness, who gave only his first name, Shambel over fears for his safety, said the local Amhara community is now desperately seeking to be relocated somewhere else “before another round of mass killings happen.”
He said ethnic Amhara that settled in the area about 30 years ago in resettlement programs are now being “killed like chickens.”
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OLA denies allegations
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 the operations launched by (federal) security forces.”
An OLA spokesperson, Odaa Tarbii, denied the allegations.
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Ethiopia is experiencing widespread ethnic tensions in several regions, most of them over historical grievances and political tensions.
The Amhara people, the second-largest ethnic group among Ethiopia’s more than 110 million population, have been targeted frequently in regions like Oromia.
The government-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on Sunday called on the federal government to find a “lasting solution” to the killing of civilians and protect them from such attacks.