By Addis Standard Staff
Addis Abeba, August 26/2021 – The residents and the zonal administrator of East Wollega Zone in Oromia Region were quoted by BBC Amharic stating that several people had been killed in a series of clashes between militants as well as an onslaught on civilians in Kiramu Woreda of the zone since August 18, 2021.
Alemayehu Tesfa, the administrator of the East Wollega Zone, confirmed that the clashes broke out five days ago in the area. He attributed the attacks to unidentified armed Amhara militias as well as Shane (a term used by government officials to refer to Oromo Liberation Army, OLA).
An ethnic Amhara resident of Kiramu woreda corroborated Alemayehu’s statement and said, “Militants attacked residents following the departure of the Oromia Special Forces from the area,” he continued, “There were hundreds of people killed in the attack and noted that more than eight thousand people are currently displaced with no assistance has been reached to the displaced people.”
Alemayehu, said “The main perpetrators of the attack were members of Shane who opened fire on both Oromos and Amharas. There are also armed Amhara militias. The conflict has now stopped.”
“The main perpetrators of the attack were members of Shane who opened fire on both Oromos and Amharas. There are also armed Amhara militias.
Alemayehu Tesfa, the administrator of the East Wollega Zone
“At the moment, security forces are stepping in and are taking measurements thereby calming the people. So far, the number of people who died and were injured in the conflict is being investigated. We will announce when the investigation is done,” the zone administrator said. Furthermore, he disclosed that Shane and Amhara gunmen he did not name, exchanged gunfire and fired at civilians.
“The goal of the two groups is to instigate conflict between two nations that have lived together peacefully for many years.” Alemayehu argued, and stated that lives were lost in the conflict and that several people have been displaced. He added that there is now stability in the area and that the authorities are working to rehabilitate the displaced.
On the other hand, a resident of the area told BBC Afaan Oromo that there has been a security issue between the place called Hagemsa and Haro including Kiramu.
“There was a conflict between Amhara and Oromo in that area. There are many people from Amhara state who were born and raised there, Because of the conflict they moved their children and wife’s to Amhara region and came back to launch an attack on Oromo residents” the witness said, further explaining that he and his family fled the area but gunshots could be heard while he was talking to a member of the family left behind.
An ethnic Amhara resident of the area who spoke to BBC Afaan Oromo said, “I was born and raised in East Wollega Kiremu District. My uncle, and my aunt were killed there with their entire families.” He added “There were many armed forces in that area including OLA forces , special forces, and the others , but the special force left the place before a day of attack. I won’t say that the special forces have not paid the sacrifice. But their power and weapons were not equal and they were made to leave the district.” He went on to explain “In areas where ethnic Amhahras were armed, people were able to save themselves,” he said. “I was luckily in an area where there were many armed people and we were able to defend and save ourselves.”
“In areas where ethnic Amhahras were armed, people were able to save themselves.”
Ethnic Amhara Resident
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in today’s press release expressed its concerns following the killing and displacement of residents in Gida Kiramu Woreda. The EHRC indicated its information provided from residents that accused ‘OLA/Shane’ armed militants of violence of communal nature that claimed 150 lives on August 20, 2021.
The statement detailed that as a result of such violence, residents, especially women and children fled to neighboring areas to the Amhara region and to Kiramu town. EHRC further explained that the next day, some Amhara residents retaliated and killed 60 people.
Daniel Bekele (PhD), EHRC Chief Commissioner, called the regional security forces to coordinate with the federal government to ensure the safety of the residents. He called on the Oromia regional government and the federal government to investigate the incident, saying that “In particular, the deployment and operation of the security forces in the area should be properly investigated.”
In a statement addressing the allegations, the international spokesperson of the OLA high command called the reports ‘heavily distorted’ and ‘well-organized propaganda campaigns of the irredentist National Association of Amhara’s (NaMA) diaspora wing.’The OLA recalled previous attack on ethnic Amhara community and said, “Government-aligned militias working in coordination with Oromia Special Forces committed horrific massacres of Amhara civilians intending to blame the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).”
The OLA spoke of the rise of well-trained Amhara militias arriving in East Wollega over the last year. “Specifically, they have been operating in the part of East Walaga that lies between Nekemte and the Blue Nile (which is the border to Amhara Regional State).” the OLA said.
Backed by the East Wollega Zone Communication Bureau and the Gida Ayana District Communication Bureau the OLA detailed the attacks on ethnic Oromo farmers by ‘armed Amhara’ in Agamsa and Kiramu towns. The OLA inisited, “When our forces arrived in Kiramu, it was these Amhara fighters that began engaging them in a firefight. They were armed not just with AK-47s but had heavier weaponry such as DShK (locally known as Dishkas) and Dragunov snipers.”
The OLA also demanded an independent investigation by the United Nations or any other concerned third party to clear what it called a ‘false narrative.’ “If there were any innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, we are prepared to accept responsibility and we will do what we can to assure there is justice. We once again demand an independent investigation by the United Nations or any other concerned third party so that the world can understand just how easily the truth gets distorted.” the OLA said. The statement concluded by reiterating commitment to cooperate in an independent investigation.
“We once again demand an independent investigation by the United Nations or any other concerned third party so that the world can understand just how easily the truth gets distorted.”
OLA high command
Last month, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) called the government to investigate human rights abuses that happened in various regions of Ethiopia. In a statement released on July 22, 2021 EHRCO expressed its grave concern over the situation Horo Guduru Wollega Zone Jarte Woreda by “Shane” which, according to the report, forced residents of Amhara origin to abandon their land and leave the area.
The statement disclosed that such violence happened in five kebeles, namely Harologo, Jinjimare, Horodade, Abdi Dandi and Asa Gudina, of Jarte Woreda.
The EHRCO statement stated that while many were killed in Senbo Chafe Kebele, others who tried to flee to the Amhara region via Shambu were stuck in trouble as they were banned from resuming their course.
EHRCO explained that it learnt of the latest attacks from residents of the area, “Following the release of upto 300 people who were under custody and the looting of firearms from depots, and opened fire on Amhara residents. As a result of such insecurity, thirty thousand residents attempted to flee the area though it was not successful.”AS