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News Analysis: Conflict resurfaces in Oromo Special zone, North Showa zones of Amhara region

By Dereje Gonfa @DerejeGonfa

Addis Abeba – Renewed violence in the Oromo and North Showa zones in the Amhara region claimed the lives of about a dozen people and displaced many reports said. Residents of Jille Dumuga woreda of the region’s Oromo Special zone told Addis Standard that conflict flared up on the afternoon of Sunday, April 18th.

Kebede(name changed for security reasons) is a resident of Jille Dumuga who spoke to Addis Standard during an active conflict in an area called Kolash. The locality is a border area between Shewa Robit (North Shewa zone) and Wasen Kurkur (Oromo Special zone), Kebede said. According to him, Fano, (a group of armed militia in Amhara region) launched an attack on the residents around 5:00 PM local time. 

“Fano organized themselves, entered the Oromo special zone, and started shooting at residents killing two farmers and wounding many,” he recounted. The conflict subsided after government security forces intervened, he said, adding, “Fano regrouped overnight then relaunched the attack. The combat was ongoing all day Monday.”

He further narrated that Fano entered the Oromo zone carrying the tricolor flag: plain green, yellow and red en masse. He noted that the local security was overwhelmed and requested intervention by Federal Police and Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF). 

“One person died in front of me. I saw three other people die. Many were injured. These are just the ones I witnessed, there could be many more,” Kebede, said adding “They insist that the Oromo special zone should be dismantled.” 

Anteneh Teka, a resident of Showa Robit told Addis Standard a different account of the conflict, “Fano expected support from the regional special force. When the special force refused to take sides, clashes broke out between the two.” He also stated that the residents of Showa Robit fled to the nearby towns of Debre Sina and Debre Birhan for fear that conflict might spread. 

The administrator of Jile Dhumuga woreda, Ahmed Mohammed spoke to Addis Standard by phone saying that regional special forces and federal security forces quelled the attacks in collaboration with regional officials.  Ahmed also corroborated Anteneh’s statement and explained that Fano clashed with the special force during the attempts by special forces to intervene. Ahmed went on to accuse Fano of inciting conflict and explained that 10 people died and 34 others are injured in the conflict. Ahmed said that investigations into the cause of the conflict and casualties are ongoing. 

Fantahun (name changed for security reasons) is a resident of Jile Dhumuga woreda who told Addis Standard that the attack was launched in two directions; one from Jille Dumuga and the other around Bati town. “The people refused to flee their homes so they retaliated.  There was an intense fighting Monday morning,” he said. He cited the recurring violence against the residents of the Oromo special zone and said, “They have now waged an open war to displace, kill and torture people.” 

Fantahun said that federal police were deployed to the area late yesterday after which peace was restored, he said. Speaking about today’s condition, he explained that the death toll is increasing and that tensions are running high although the fighting has come to an end. 

Another resident of Shewa Robit who spoke to Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity said that the residents started fleeing before the conflict reached the town. “The town administration tried to stop residents from fleeing, however, they couldn’t contain the people,” he said, adding,  “Today people are returning since the conflict is quelled.” The administrator of the North Showa zone, Tadesse Gabra, was not available for comments. AS

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