Ethiopian rights group: 150 reported dead in alleged attack

NAIROBI, Kenya: The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission says it has received reports from residents that some 150 people were killed earlier this month in an alleged attack by the Oromo Liberation Army, which the government declared a terrorist group this year.

A statement by the government-created rights group on Thursday said the killings in East Wollega in the Oromia region on Aug. 18 were followed by a revenge attack the next day that left another 60 people dead.

The statement said the first attack occurred a day after security forces stationed in the area left. The commission has called for an investigation into why.

A spokesman for the Oromo Liberation Army, Odaa Tarbii, in a social media post has called the allegations against the armed group “a gross distortion of facts on the ground” and said intense fighting has been ongoing in the area between ethnic Amhara and ethnic Oromos. The two are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups.

The human rights commission’s statement comes after the Amhara Association of America this week alleged that at least 135 Amhara were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed in the Aug. 18 attack by “suspected members of OLA militias.”

Ethnic violence is a major challenge for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who also is dealing with a growing conflict that has spread out of the country’s northern Tigray region into neighboring Amhara and Afar. – AP