By Addis Standard staff
Addis Abeba: In what survivors have described as an “indiscriminate attack” carried out on Tuesday 30 August, dozens of civilians were killed in Agamsa town, Amuru district, Horro Guduru Wollaga zone, eye witnesses who spoke to Addis Standard said. Thousands more are displaced.
The exact number of victims has been hard to come by with online activists stating as many as 61. A report by DW Amharic stated that more than 55 civilians were killed in the attack.
Getachew [name altered for security reasons] spoke with Addis Standard on details surrounding the attack. “They attacked us at 7 AM in the early morning of Tuesday; people did not have information at all. Some were waking up, some were leaving their houses to go look for work, and this was the scenario in which they opened fire on the people. Some hid in the corn fields and saved their own lives. The militants stole over 5000 cattle. We have nothing to say, the shops, and even furniture was not spared, they [militants] loaded it onto their cars and left.”
He added, ‘’ we have buried 63 bodies so far. There are those who were not able to bury, even now, we are recovering bodies as we speak. The surviving people have been displaced, no one is left. No properties are left as well. The displaced have gone to Amuru, even there they are starving, some have drowned, there are a lot of children who have been lost.’’
Getachew blames “militants who call themselves Fano” for the attacks, further noting, “Fano militants came over from Gojjam, they are rained and armed there. There are many of them in Jardaga Jarte and Goman, displacing many people from these places. Many have been moved into the cities, taking their belongings and cattle.’’
Another witness who spoke to Addis Standard but didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisal, said that Agamsa town was temporarily controlled by some members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), adding, that there was no presence of security forces in the town currently. Referring to the suspected assailants, he also said, “the Fano militia had crossed over from the neighboring Kiramu district and attacked us. They were armed with advanced weaponry, including snipers and Bren machine guns, then opened fire on unarmed civilians.” He also stated that many people had died and there are still missing individuals. The source spoke that the Fano militia had been behind the insecurity in the region, since May, at least 80 cattle have been looted on daily basis, with the shepherds being killed.’’
The informant went further and accused the Federal Police and Defense Forces of exacerbating the already volatile situation, accusing ‘defecting members from these security forces have joined the Fano, the ones in the jungle steal our cattle while the others in the town fire bullets at us.’’ Additionally, he said, “50-60 members of the federal security forces have joined the Fano from Agamsa alone’’.
“Many have been displaced and their cattle were stolen by these militants; people have come to Agamsa with their cattle from Hole, Billi, Wali, Luquma, Migir, Joj, Samo, Elamu, Nyare, Awoo, Gofi, and different places.”, the source said.
When asked what the local administrative apparatus has done in response to such attacks, the CI answered: “they are worried about staying in power, and not the problems of the locality.”
Despite overwhelming reporting by several media and rights activists, so far there is no official statement both from the federal and the Oromia regional governments.
Addis Standard had previously reported that on the 12th of February, 2022, 29 people had lost their lives in Botoro Bora village, Abe Dongoro district of Horro Guduru Wallaga zone. The attack also involved looting and burning of properties, with 64 houses having been burnt. One of the sources quoted in the forenamed Addis Standard report had stated, “Fano militants had murdered 20 women and children.”
Violence has been a sticking thorn in Western Oromia, more specifically in East Wallaga and Horo Guduru Wallaga zones, exacerbated by increasingly persisting inter-communal clashes and a conflict between the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which the government refers to as ‘Shane’, and [federal + regional] government forces for the past 3-4 years. AS