No fewer than 210 people were killed in Oromia, West Ethiopia earlier in August in an alleged attack by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a government-created rights group said on Thursday.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, in a statement on Thursday, said it received reports from residents that some 150 people were killed by the OLA in East Wollega in the Oromia region on August 18.
The killing was reportedly followed by reprisal attacks by Amhara fighters the following day that left another 60 people dead.
Security forces stationed in the area left a day after the first attack, according to the statement. The commission has called for an investigation into why.
In a social media post, an Oromo Liberation Army spokesman, Odaa Tarbii, called the accusations against his group “a gross distortion of the truth” and claimed that fighting has been ongoing between ethnic Amharas and ethnic Oromo – Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups.
A statement released this week by the Amhara Association of America reports more than 135 Amharas have been killed and hundreds of homes destroyed during the August 18 attack by “suspected OLA militia members.”
East Wollega has a significant Amhara population and its fertile lands have been a source of tension between the two communities.
OLA, which has said it is pushing for the self-determination of the Oromo people, has denied killing civilians and claims that it has been protecting residents.
An alliance between the OLA and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – who are fighting in the north of the country – was announced this month, resulting in concerns that the conflict could escalate and put added pressure on the Ethiopian central government.
Ethiopia has seen a spike in intercommunal violence since 2018 – forcing more than two million people to flee their homes.
In April, reports claimed about 200 people were killed in clashes between Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara, in the northern Amhara region.
“According to information we got from people who are displaced, we estimate that up to 200 people might have died from both zones, but we still need to verify the number,” Endale Haile, Ethiopia’s chief ombudsman, had said at the time.
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