Ethnic clashes in Ethiopia’s Oromia region kill 200

Oromia map

More than 200 people have been killed following fighting in western Ethiopia.

The state-appointed Ethiopia Human Rights Commission said the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) had killed about 150 people.

Local officials told the BBC that fighters from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups clashed over two days last week in East Wollega Zone in the Oromia region.

One eyewitness told the BBC that bodies had washed up in a river nearby and were later buried.

East Wollega has a significant Amhara population and its fertile lands have been a source of tension between the two communities.

The Ethiopia Human Rights Commission said the attack was ethnic-based and blamed the OLA for much of the violence. The commission also said Amhara groups had retaliated, killing about 60 people.

Local officials told the BBC both Oromo and Amhara militia had carried out attacks in the area.

Thousands are believed to have been displaced and dozens of homes destroyed during the violence.

The OLA, which says it’s pushing for the self-determination of the Oromo people, has denied killing civilians and says it was protecting residents from armed militants.

Fighting is reported to be ongoing in East Wollega as government forces try to take control of the situation.

The OLA is mainly present in western Oromia, where human rights groups have accused the rebels of attacking civilians in the past.

Earlier this month an alliance was announced between the OLA and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front who are fighting in the north of the country, prompting concerns the conflict could escalate and place added pressure on Ethiopia’s central government.

Ethiopia has seen a spike in intercommunal violence since 2018 – forcing more than two million people to flee their homes.

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