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Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, September 2018 – The number of civilians killed in in Burayu in a spate of day & night organized attacks has reached at least twenty three  according to the Oromia region police commission Commissioner General Alemayehu Ejigu. The number could increase, he said.

The attacks, which happened in several places in and around Burayu, 19 Km west of Addis Abeba in the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Addis Abeba, have in most parts started on Friday; others say the first signs have began emerging on Thursday. However, a full scale attack that lasted for hours on Saturday to Sunday night had seen many brutally killed, maimed and displaced.  It also included “organized robbery”, according to Abaynesh, who is separated from her three children (one of whom only four years old). Speaking to Addis Standard, Abaynesh said she left her house on Friday in search of safety after attackers have “invaded our neighborhood.”

The police commissioner general also said 200 people suspected of organizing the violence were detained. But questions linger. Many of the victims who were sheltered inside Philipos school in Kolfe in Addis Abeba, said their repeated calls for the police went unanswered.  “I can say that the local government has done nothing to protect civilians,” said one survivor who wants to remain anonymous. “It could have been prevented from day one if the police had intervened when the first stone was thrown. Burayu police failed the Dorzes,” he said mentioning one of the many minority ethnic groups who were targeted in the attack. Othe ethnic groups includes Gamos, Wolayitas, Guraghes & Siltes. The attacks are also not perpetrated by one or two groups. “We have seen many cars with plate number initials from Addis Abeba and Oromia that were used to loot properties and drop off perpetrators.”  As of now, there is little detail coming from authorities about the perptrators other than saying about 200 were detained. the area remained inaccessible with no to little transportation going since yesterday. However, a large number of military personnel were seen headed toward the area yesterday.

Oromia police commissioner said calm was being restored into the affected areas, but thousands of the displaced victims remain holed up in several schools in the western part of Addis Abeba. After visiting some of the displaced at Kale school yesterday Addis Abeba deputy mayor Takele  Uma and his  deputy Dagmawit Moges issued statements condemning the attacks. “We’re working with law enforcement and Oromia officials to return those displaced to their homes,” Takele said.

Zeynu Jemal, the federal police commission commissioner general, on his part said this afternoon that the police believe the organized mob was led by a larger and well organized command cell. The crimes were committed in areas that were not at close range to police stations, he said. However Zeynu admitted that there has also been  a”security gap”. Up to 300 suspects were arrested in Addis Abeba only, according to Zeynu, and the number of suspects arrested in Burayu may reach up to 400. The number of causalities could also rise above 25, he said. Investigations are still ongoing and this number “may increase.”

In a related development, mass demonstrations denouncing the killings have taken place in various parts of the capital Addis Abeba today culminating at a massive gathering at Mesqel Square. According to Zeynu Jemal, five people were confirmed to have been killed by security in connection with the demonstration.  He said the deceased were acting “outside the aim of the demonstration” & have attacked a police officer & tried to snatch a weapon from a police. A hand grenade was also apprehended from individuals after community tip offs and attempts to rob business in Merkato and Piassa were thwarted by the police. AS

 

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