Addis Abeba, May 01/2021 – At least 21 civilians were killed in two separate attacks. Fifteen passengers were killed by gunmen in a bus traveling from Bure town in West Gojam zone, Amhara regional state, to Nekemte city, East Wollega zone, Oromia regional state.
Similarly, six civilians were “brutally” killed, including being burned alive,in Danchu Kebelle of Bench Sheko Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State (SNNPRS).
Both killings took place on April 30, a Good Friday holiday for Ethiopian Christians.
According to Commander Birhanu Yebase, Chief of the Police in Horo Gudru zone, who spoke to national broadcaster, the armed group who he said were members of “OLF/Shene”, mounted the attack on the transport bus traveling from Bure to Nekemte when it reached Amuru wereda shortly after the bus “crossed the Abay river”. The attackers rerouted to bus toward Abay gorge before they forced the passengers out of the bus, killing 15 of them. He said there were injured passengers who are thought to have left the area. Commander Birhanu said that the victims were members of the Amhara and Oromo community from the area, but he added that security were beefed up to protect members of the Amhara community.
This latest attack came shortly after at least 20 civilians were killed last week in an attack in Jimma Zone, Limmu Kosa Kebelle of Oromia regional state. Getachew Balcha, spokesperson of the regional state, blamed the attack on “OLF/Shene”, a name government officials use to refer to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a rebel army currently engaged in armed conflict with government forces in Oromia regional state.
However, OLA repeatedly denies the accusations and called for independent investigations of all the attacks on civilians in the region. It also blames these attacks on a parallel militiamen armed by the government itself.
Attack in Bench Sheko
In a similar development, in an attack on the same day mounted by “illegal armed group”, six civilians were “brutally” killed in Danchu Kebelle of Bench Sheko Zone in SNNPRS. The victims included civilians who were burned alive in their home. In a meeting the local authorities held with the community in Danchu Kebelle, members of the community bitterly spoke about lack of protection from government security forces when they keep facing repeated attacks in recent months.
In September last year, the Councils of five zones and one special wereda had approved the integration into one new regional state in SNNPRS. They are: Bench-Shako Zone, Kaffa Zone, Dawro Zone, Sheka Zone, West Omo Zone and Konta Special Woreda, the decision was approved by the House of Federation (HoF) subsequently paving way for a referendum to take place for the new regional state called “South-West Ethiopia.”
In October 2020, 12 civilians were killed and five were injured by “unidentified armed group” in Gura Farda Wereda of Bench Sheko Zone, followed yet by another similar attack in March this year in the same Wereda in which at least ten civilians were killed.
However, it is not clear if the spike in these attacks against civilians by armed group who are yet to be identified by authorities is related to the new administrative arrangement.
According to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), South-West referendum will take place on June 05, the same day as the 6th general elections day. AS