Massacre in Ethiopia sparks fears of war as country plunges into further instability

THIOPIA has been plunged into further instability after armed men executed scores of women and children in an attack on Sunday which has been blamed by officials on a separatist group active in the region.

OLF forces in 2006 Photo: Jonathan Alpeyrie / Creative Commons

The killings in the Gawa Qanqa village in Guliso District, West Wellega, have been blamed on the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), an insurgent group known for kidnappings and bomb attacks in the south and western parts of the country.

The death toll is unclear, with Amnesty International reporting 54 deaths after speaking to survivors, an increase on the earlier figure of 32 given by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

According to the EHRC the victims, who were members of Ethiopia’s Amhara ethnic group, “were dragged from their homes and taken to a school, where they were killed,” in a “massacre” that involved up to 60 “armed and unarmed assailants.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed condemned the attack as “heartbreaking.”

“Ethiopia’s enemies are vowing either to rule the country or ruin it, and they are doing everything they can to achieve this. One of their tactics is to arm civilians and carry out barbaric attacks based on identity,” he said.

But questions are being asked as to why the government suddenly withdrew security forces from the region just a day before the attack, despite the volatile security situation.

Survivors said it paved the way for OLA fighters to round up civilians and massacre them.

Amnesty spokesman Deprose Muchena said: “The fact that this horrendous incident occurred shortly after government troops abruptly withdrew from the area in unexplained circumstances raises questions that must be answered.”

Opposition party the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) slammed the government for failing to protect civilians.

Fears of war and the possible break-up of Ethiopia were raised last week as the northern Tigray region’s rejection of a military appointment threatened to spark a conflict.

The powerful northern region defied the capital Addis Ababa in September by holding elections deemed “illegitimate and unconstitutional.”

Federal lawmakers have demanded that funding is cut to the Tigray parliament in a bid to bring it back in line.

Last week a report from the International Crisis Group warned that the stand-off “could trigger a damaging conflict that may even rip the Ethiopian state asunder.”

1 thought on “Massacre in Ethiopia sparks fears of war as country plunges into further instability

  1. What I am hearing again and again from news sources quoting those who survived the massacre is this. The savage killing was carried out immediately after the federal defense forces left the area. This has been common sequence of events when mass killings were inflicted on innocent civilians. I remember reading similar stories about the massacres in the early 1990’s. Government forces leave the area then Dawud Ibsa’s hooligans come in and murder innocent civilians en masse. In all cases the excuse for the Ten Bundy’s was/has been ‘you have been talking to the government forces about us’. Somebody in the federal forces must have been setting up the civilians for this savage act. Somebody who knows talking to the civilians will incense the thugs hiding not too far in the nearby bushes. He would hold meetings after meetings with the civilians and have open discussions about how to fight the thugs. It is a given that civilians would feel safe and protected when they see well armed soldiers in their village. They would open up what the thugs have done to them, how they look like and which directions they left just before government forces moved in. All this could have reached the ears of the thugs through their human listening posts in and around that village. They wait until the soldiers move out and then they descend upon the innocent unarmed civilians with deadly impunity. I suspect this could have been what exactly happened. It is the same old routine.

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