Addis Ababa – Sidama region has said that the recent violence that saw at least a dozen people killed in border areas with West Arsi zone of the neighboring Oromia region is neither border dispute nor ethnic clashes between the Sidama and the Oromo people, as widely reported.
Speaking to Addis Standard, Alemayehu Timothewos, head of the Justice and Security Bureau of Sidama region, said that the violence erupted last week after a dispute between individuals was escalated.
Alemayehu said that several people were killed and property was destroyed due to the conflict, and said that there were casualties from both sides. He stated that the conflict occurred after an ethnic Sidama individual killed a person in a fight that broke out in Gubo village of East Guji Zone. Relatives of the victim then traced the individual and acted in retaliation killing many people and destroying properties.
He said the conflict was brought under control with organized effort of security forces from both Sidama and Oromia region dismissing allegations that the security forces were involved in the clashes.
Ahmed Haji, the chief administrator of West Arsi Zone, corroborated Alemayehu’s remarks, and said reports that the deceased were attacked after they were called for a meeting is inaccurate.
“Lives were lost on both sides, some have been displaced from their homes, some have had their properties looted,” Ahmed said, adding that he could not tell the number of people killed in the violence as it is still under investigation.
Local residents and families of victims told VOA Amharic that at least 12 people were killed in the clashes.
Confirming the deployment of the federal army to the area, the two officials said community leaders from both sides have discussed and agreed to resolve the issue and put it to rest with reconciliation.
Neighboring communities of the two regions, according to the officials, have been fighting over water and grass in the past, and the clashes were resolved in a traditional way. AS