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News: Gunmen kill Chinese national in Oromia, Embassy advises travel caution

Addis Ababa – A Chinese citizen was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in the Gerba Guracha town, in North Shewa Zone of Oromia region. Media reports attributed a statement from the Chinese Embassy in Addis Abeba that nine Chinese nationals were attacked by gunmen in Gerba Guracha, a town located some 160 kilometers from the capital, Addis Abeba.

The attack happened on Monday evening when nine Chinese citizens came under armed attack in Gerba Guracha, a town in northern part of Oromia. One was shot dead, the Chinese embassy in Ethiopia said in a statement on Tuesday, giving no further information about the incident and the perpetrators.

The embassy cautioned Chinese nationals that border areas between Oromia and other regions have seen frequent pernicious cases of armed attacks, kidnappings, and robberies, making security risks high and called on Chinese citizens and institutions in Ethiopia to be vigilant, avoid negligence, build a strong security awareness, stay away from high-risk areas, and not travel to or pass through high-risk areas. “If you are already in a high-risk area, you should evacuate to a safe area immediately.”

Attempts by Addis Standard to reach spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, the Oromia Police Commissioner and the Gerba Guracha Police Commander for comment were unsuccessful.

On 22 October last year, the North Shewa, Selale Diocese of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church said armed militants killed a deacon and kidnapped 11 priests including a parish administrator in Gebre Guracha town.

On January 26, about 20 workers of Dangote cement factory, located in Adea Berga district in West Shewa Zone of Oromia region, were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen, while they were on duty to renovate a broken water pump station [located some 25 km away from Muger town], where the company obtains water for its production.

They were later released on Monday 30 January after paying a ransom ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 birr each “on their own”, a source close to the matter told Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity.

While northern Ethiopia has seen improvement in peace after two years of brutal war, following a peace deal signed between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayian authorities, brutal fighting and suffering of civilians has continued in the wider part of Oromia, the largest and most populous region of Ethiopia.

The rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), irregular militants from neighboring Amhara region called ‘Fanno’ and the government were seen blaming each other for the attacks on civilians in Oromia region.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in January, 2022, voiced concern about the situation in Oromia and “discussed the need to bring an end to ongoing instability in the Oromia region,” which came in the backdrop of increasing militarized hostilities between government forces and armed members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), known by the government as “Shene.”

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There were increasing calls for peaceful resolution of the conflict, which started nearly four years ago. On 05 December, the MPs who are also members of the ruling Prosperity party had submitted a letter consisting of ten points to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and senior leaders of the parliament demanding lasting peace in Oromia region.

The MPs called on the government in an unprecedented manner to cease the war in Oromia and make a peace deal with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). However, both the regional government and the national army upped the threat against the rebel group as reports of intensified fighting in several parts of Oromia continued to emerge including the use of drones in civilian populated areas. AS

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