Thu, 11 Aug 2022

Addis Ababa [Ethiopia], July 5 (ANI/Xinhua): The state-backed Ethiopia Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has called for urgent reinforcement of government security forces in order to prevent further civilian deaths.

EHRC Commissioner Daniel Bekele said in a press statement released Monday that the apparent ethnically targeted killing of residents in parts of Ethiopia's Oromia region must be put to a stop immediately.

The EHRC statement said it has received yet unconfirmed reports of a massacre that happened in the early hours of Monday in two rural localities in Hawa Gelan district, Kellem Wollega zone of Oromia region.

"The Commission has spoken with survivors who have fled the area and local sources who indicated the perpetrators are members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)," read the EHRC statement. The populations of the two rural localities are known to be primarily of ethnic Amhara origin.

On Monday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a social media post accused OLA rebels of massacring civilians in the Kellem Wollega zone, as a response to the losses being inflicted on the rebel group by security forces.

The Ethiopian government hasn't provided a death toll relating to the latest attack on civilians in the Oromia region.

The regional state-owned Amhara Media Corporation (AMC) spoke on the phone to a survivor of the latest massacre who claimed he has helped collect the bodies of 320 victims. The survivor also told AMC soldiers had arrived in the area where the latest atrocity occurred, while the OLA rebels fled to their hideouts shortly after the latest killings.

In June, an armed attack on mainly ethnic Amhara farmers in Tole rural locality, Gimbi district, West Wollega zone of Oromia region, left at least 338 people dead.

Ethiopian government officials and survivors have accused OLA fighters of carrying out the weekend attack, a charge the rebel group has denied.

OLA is a breakaway armed faction of an ex-rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

The OLA is estimated to have around 3,000 plus fighters, operating in the western and southern parts of Oromia regional state, the principal homeland of ethnic Oromos who make up around 35 per cent of Ethiopia's total population.

In May 2021, the Ethiopian parliament voted to designate the OLA as a terrorist group. (ANI/Xinhua)

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