An attack by a rebel group in Ethiopia’s Oromo region Sunday left at least 200 people dead, according to witnesses. The massacre appears to be ethnically motivated as victims belong to the Amhara ethnic group and witnesses allege that the Oromo Liberation Army is responsible for the attack.
The Oromo Liberation Army is labeled as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government. However, it denied responsibility for the massacre and instead blamed a militia aligned with the regional government supporting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethnic-based violence has been an ongoing and monumental issue in Ethiopia for many decades. However, this is one of the most devastating attacks in recent years.
“I have counted 230 bodies. I am afraid this is the deadliest attack against civilians we have seen in our lifetime,” said one witness and survivor of the attack, Abdul-Seid Tahir.
As survivors bury their loved ones in mass graves, they fear for their lives and worry that there will be more ethnically motivated attacks against them to come.
Ethiopia, a nation composed of 9 regional states, has seen a surge in ethnic violence and tensions in recent years. As the international community has condemned ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans in Ethiopia’s northernmost region, ethnic tensions continue to rise throughout Amhara, Oromia, and the rest of the country.
Ethnically motivated fighting has engulfed the nation of Ethiopia as atrocities continue to be committed against civilians and conflicts rage on between its ethnic groups. Amnesty International reports that last year “Ethnic violence claimed at least 1,500 lives in the Oromia, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Afar, and Somali regions.”
“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. 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,” said Oromo Liberation Army spokesperson Odaa Tarbii of the allegations.