Militia responsible for 338 deaths in Oromiya, blames Ethiopia

The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said on Thursday that an attack earlier this month in the western part of Ethiopia’s Oromiya region left about 340 people dead and blamed it on a militia that was once associated with an opposition party.

The biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia, as well as other groups, call Oromiya home. For years, there has been instability there due to complaints about the central government’s political negligence and marginalization.

According to two local witnesses who assisted in the burial of the victims, gunmen slaughtered at least 200 people on June 18 in the Gimbi region of the Western Wollega Zone.

The number of casualties who have been recognized so far stands at 338, according to information I got from the Oromiya area yesterday, the prime minister’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum told reporters.

She said that ethnic Oromos, Amharas, and Gumuz were among the fatalities and blamed the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) for their deaths.

The organization has repeatedly demanded an impartial probe while denying any participation.

The Oromo Liberation Front, a historically outlawed opposition party that came back from exile after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed office in 2018, is the parent organization of the OLA, an illegal offshoot.

In order to examine atrocities like the most recent attack in Oromiya, a United Nations-appointed International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia urged member states to lend it experienced investigators and other logistical support.

Betty Murungi, chair of the commission, told member states at a briefing in Geneva on Thursday that “the most recent incidents in western Oromiya definitely come within the mandate of the commission and demand prompt, urgent and complete investigations.”

In November 2020, government Ethiopian army engaged in combat with Tigrayan rebel forces. Since then, all sides have been accused of committing crimes, including killings and sexual assault, which the combatants have denied.

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