Ethnic clashes kill dozens in Ethiopia
Dozens of people have reportedly been killed in western Ethiopia following an outbreak of ethnic violence.
Rebels from the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) have reportedly attacked remote villages where ethnic Amharas live.
Several homes have been set ablaze in the violence which begun on Saturday.
The regional government has also blamed the OLA government for the violence.
In a statement, the Oromia regional government said the rebels attacked “after being unable to resist the operations launched by (federal) security forces.”
But a spokesman has denied the claim, insisting that a militia set up by the authorities in charge of the Oromia region was behind the killings.
“The attack you are referring to was committed by the regime’s military and local militia as they retreated from their camp in Gimbi following our recent offensive,” he said in a message to the AP.
“They escaped to an area called Tole, where they attacked the local population and destroyed their property as retaliation for their perceived support for the OLA. Our fighters had not even reached that area when the attacks took place”, OLA spokesman, Odaa Tarbii said.
Although the scale of the violence is not yet clear, some eyewitnesses claim that more than 200 people have been killed.
“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 The Associated Press after barely escaping the attack on Saturday.
“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”, an eyewitness said.
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.”
Ethiopia has seen an unprecedented rise in ethnic violence in the past three years with thousands killed and millions uprooted from their lives.