Witnesses said more than 200 were killed in Ethiopia in an alleged ethnic attack

On Sunday, eyewitnesses in Ethiopia said that more than 200 ethnic Amharas were killed in an attack in the country’s Oromia region, blaming a rebel group that denies this.

It is one of the deadliest attacks in recent memory as ethnic tensions persist in Africa’s second most populous country.

“I counted 230 bodies. I fear this is the deadliest attack against civilians we have seen in our lifetime,” Abdul Sayed Taher, a resident of Jimbe County, told The Associated Press after narrowly surviving the attack on Saturday. “We bury them in mass graves and we are still collecting the bodies. Now units of the federal army have arrived, but we fear that the attacks will continue if they leave,” he added.

Another witness, who gave only his first name, Shambel due to concerns for his safety, said the Amhara community was now desperately seeking to relocate “before another round of mass killings occurred.” He said the Amharas, who settled in the area about 30 years ago in resettlement programs, are ” being killed like chickens”.

Both witnesses blamed the OLA for the attacks. In a statement, the Oromia regional government blamed the SLA, saying the rebels attacked “after being unable to resist the operations launched by the (federal) security forces”.

A spokesman for the Office of Legal Affairs, Oda Tarabi, denied the allegations.

“The attack you are referring to was perpetrated by the regime’s military and local militias as they withdrew from their camp in Jimbe after our latest attack,” he said in a letter to the Associated Press. “They fled to an area called Tol, where they attacked the locals and destroyed their property in retaliation for their supposed support of the OLA. Our fighters had not reached that area when the attacks occurred.”

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Ethiopia is experiencing widespread ethnic tensions in several regions, mostly due to historical grievances and political tensions. The Amhara people, the second largest ethnic group among the more than 110 million people in Ethiopia, have been frequently targeted in areas such as Oromia.

The government-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on Sunday called on the federal government to find a “durable solution” to killing civilians and protect them from such attacks.

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