By Neelam Rahim
Witnesses in Ethiopia said Sunday that over 200 people, mostly ethnic Amhara, are killed in an attack by rebels within the country’s Oromia region. Still, the insurgents denied the claims, blaming government forces for the deaths.
According to The Defence Post, Fighting erupted on Saturday morning in Oromia’s Gimbi district between pro-government forces and also the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). This rebel group is branded a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government.
Amharas and Oromos comprise the overwhelming majority of Ethiopia’s 115 million people, and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has previously accused the OLA of ethnic massacres.
It is one in every of the deadliest such attacks in recent memory as ethnic tensions continue in Africa’s second-most populous country.
“I have counted 230 bodies. i’m afraid this can be the deadliest attack against civilians we’ve got seen in our lifetime,” Abdul-Seid Tahir, a resident of Gimbi county, told The Associated Press after barely escaping the attack on Saturday. “We are burying them in mass graves, and that we are still collecting bodies. Federal army units have now arrived, but we fear that the attacks could continue if they leave.”
Eyewitnesses, who spoke to AFP on anonymity for safety reasons, said the attack lasted several hours, with unclaimed bodies still lying on the streets.
“I lost my 16-year-old daughter within the attack shot by a bullet from the (OLA) gunmen,” one Amhara man said, adding that the rebels had blocked the highway.
Another man told AFP he had “personally helped bury 61 bodies on Sunday, with the whole number of buried bodies on Sunday being 351 in total.”
The Oromia regional authorities said in an exceedingly statement that the OLA had “committed a cruel attack on innocents” and vowed to require strong measures against the insurgents.
An OLA spokesperson, Odaa Tarbii, denied the allegations. “The attack you’re touching on was committed by the regime’s military and native militia as they retreated from their camp in Gimbi following our recent offensive,” he said in an exceedingly message to the AP.