News: At least 12 civilians killed in Chobi, Oromia region, residents and opposition parties accuse gov’t forces of indiscriminate attack

Addis Abeba – Government forces deployed to Chobi district of West Shoa zone, Oromia region to fight the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) have allegedly killed at least twelve civilians and wounded four others, residents told Addis Standard. Some of the victims were shot dead while they were in their houses, while others were killed on the road on the morning of 10 August, 2023 in two villages namely Qoricha Koticha and Hofu Bake of the district.

A resident of Hofu Bake village who said two of his brothers were killed in the attack told Addis Standard that the killing was perpetrated by government troops stationed in the village “campaigning to eliminate OLA”. The resident said the killing did not distinguish between age and gender, adding that an 11 year old child and a 70 year old elderly man were among the victims.

Another resident who fled the attack to neighboring Jalduu district said besides those killed and wounded, five women and 20 other men were abducted by government forces and taken to an unknown location. The resident noted that his wife and one of his sons are among the abducted. 

According to the two residents, among the dead are four members of the same family; Gurmu Jifara, Tasfaye Jifara, Abarra Jifara and Abishu Jifara. Abishu succumbed to his injury later, while others were killed on the spot.

The two major Oromo opposition parties, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) have both denounced the killings which they described as “heinous and indiscriminate”. In separate statements released on 12 and 13 August respectively, both parties vehemently criticized the government’s “dry the ocean, to eliminate the fishes” approach, targeting the civilian population in order to annihilate the OLA armed group. 

Further detailing the names of the victims killed in Chobi, and highlighting other atrocities committed by government forces in other parts of Oromia in the context of the ongoing conflict in the region, the OLF called on the government to restrain from “a war that it cannot finish” and pursue an all inclusive dialogue.

The OFC on its part called for an independent investigation into the killings so that political and military leaders implicated can be held accountable. The party called on both warring sides to acknowledge the impossibility of defeating one another on the battlefield and return to the negotiating table to spare the people who are caught in the crossfires.

In October last year, at least 68 people were confirmed dead and over 100 people are wounded in a drone strike Hofu Bake village, Chobi district, as the five-year conflict in the Oromia regional state involving government forces and the armed Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) is still raging with no prospect for peaceful resolution.

Recent attempts to reach at a negotiated settlement through talks held in Zanzibar, Tanzania, ended without a concert outcome. Calls for peaceful resolution of the conflict, including from lawmakers representing Oromia regional state and the US government have so far yielded no result .AS

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