By Natnael Fite @NatieFit
Addis Ababa – Residents and local administrators in Bosat district of East Shewa zone of the Oromia region told Addis Standard that several people were killed in an attack by “armed groups from the Amhara region”.At least eight people were killed in the attack in Hadhecha village, residents said, adding that repeated attacks on the people of Bosat and Fentalle districts continue along the border with Amhara Region.
Bekele [name changed due to security concerns], a resident of Bosat district, said, “on Sunday, 14 August, armed forces calling themselves Fano came in large numbers to Hadhecha village in Bosat district and opened fire on herders, killing eight people. Three bodies were found that evening, four bodies were found the next day morning and one on Tuesday morning. One person was injured by a blow to the arm. They even committed horrible acts against the bodies by slaughtering them so that they would not be buried.”
“There is already conflict over land expansion. Yet, in our district, there is land that has not been plowed due to the fighting. They are also displacing our people in various places and farming on their land. According to Bosat district, there are special places like Siqqu, Koyiso, Qella, Andode, Gerbe Adi, Senae, Mattala, Qersa Abba Bune which are occupied by these forces called ‘Fano’. They also occupy the area called ‘Acharran’ in Hadhecha village,” Bekele commented.
According to him, the situation is still frightening even after the National Defense Forces arrived at the scene following the attack that killed eight people.
“They still monitor the movement of our people from the mountains because the ground they occupy is high. Our community has nothing to defend itself with after the government disarmed them and took away its weapons. We cannot go to our fields and plow, we cannot herd the livestock. The situation is difficult. Not only in Bosat district but also in Fentalle,” he lamented.
Another resident of Bosat district, who did not want to be named, reaffirming Bekele’s accounts, told Addis Standard that eight people were killed and one was injured in the recent attack. “On Sunday afternoon, militants who crossed the border from Amhara region into our district killed eight people in a sudden attack. One person was injured,” he detailed.
“This is not the first time such an attack has happened. Many times they have crossed the border and opened fire on us and killed farmers. Their aim is border expansion, plunder of pasture land , and plunder of livestock. Recently, as they have done before, a group of armed men from the Amhara region called ‘Fano’ came in vehicles, crossing our border before attacking civilians. We are tired of screaming all the time, but now we have nothing to say,” the resident said, expressing his despair, adding that the recent attack is a continuation of the previous attacks.
He added, “This time, I am comforting a bereaved family at their home. I find it hard to explain the situation. The people are dying. We are even afraid to go out and come in safely. We keep our district administration and police informed but the attacks have not stopped,” he said.
Bosat district administrator, Mohammed Abdo, told Addis Standard that seven people were killed in the attack. “There have been conflicts over the boundary between Bosat and Minjar-Shenkora districts in the past. For this reason, we had agreed not to plow the areas in question until a joint committee was established to resolve the issue. However, a man from Minjar Shenkora district crossed the border and started farming on the land that was ordered not to be plowed. When the farmers on Bosat side started protesting against him not to plow the land, he and his militants opened fire, killed people,” he said.
Mohammed said the attack began suddenly at around 11:30 am on 14 August and that government security forces could not reach the scene quickly because they were “on other routine duties” during the time of the attack. He said seven people were killed and one was injured in the attack.
“The border dispute is where the Adama-Awash highway passes and it is an attempt to get compensation by pretending to be the owner of the land, not to plow and eat” said Mohammed adding that, “currently, the National Defense Force and Federal Police have arrived at the scene and are calming the situation by repatriating people who came across the border.”
Addis Standard contacted the East Shewa Police Department on the matter, but the department said it had no information about the recent attack in Bosat district. “Such attacks have been repeated in the past but we are not aware of the current alleged attack. Previously, unidentified armed forces have clashed with government security forces in connection with border conflicts. We are doing our best as police to prevent harm to the public, but we have no information about the alleged incident” the police department said.
Earlier in March 2022, Addis Standard reported several Oromia militiamen, including Commander Abdisa Ifa, were killed [26 in total] and others wounded in clashes between armed forces from Shenkora district in Amhara region and militias in Fentalle district of Oromia region.
The Fentalle district administration said militia members including Commander Abdisa Ifa were killed in the attack. The Fentalle district administration had said it would prosecute the perpetrators of the attack. The statement reminded that many lives had been lost in Fentalle district this year and urged the relevant authorities to pay attention to this issue.
The then East Shewa zone governor, Ababu Wako, told Addis Standard that the attack was carried out by armed groups operating under the name of Fano. He said 26 people, including two federal police officers and a driver, were killed in the attack. The Oromia Regional State said in a statement on 30 March that the attack killed militiamen and federal police that were on duty. The state government said the attack was carried out by ‘insurgents’ operating in Minjar Shenkora district of Amhara region.
The head of the Communication Office of the Oromia Regional State, Hailu Adugna, said in a statement he gave on 11 April regarding the insurgent movement in the region that “Amhara insurgents” are causing damage in various ways. “These insurgents have caused trouble in Kiremu [East Wellega], displaced people, caused trouble in Horro Guduru Wellega , and looted property. The same thing happened in Fantalle.” Hailu said the Oromia and Amhara regional states are working in coordination to thwart the destructive acts of the insurgents and their agenda. AS