No fewer than fifty (50) people died in ethnic violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia region this month, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said on Wednesday.
The state-affiliated but independent human rights watchdog said that on February 2, gunmen descended on Ano city, which was housing more than 10,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), and “killed house to house.”
“At least 50 people including one (Oromia) regional official and his driver as well as city police and militias were killed by the armed group,” it said.
Four women and children were among the dead, it added.
The gunmen entered an IDP camp and rounded up male residents who could not escape “with some of the deceased bodies burned after their murders,” the watchdog said.
EHRC said survivors of the violence told them the fighters wore uniforms of the rebel group the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).
While calm has largely returned to northern Tigray region after two years of brutal war, fighting has continued in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest and most populous region, which is haunted by a long-running insurgency.
The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, have long complained of marginalisation.
The OLA has exploited this growing resentment to swell its ranks in its years-long battle with federal and regional forces.
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But the region is beset with other ethnic fissures too, particularly between the Oromo and the Amhara, the country’s second-largest ethnic grouping.
EHRC said the killings in Ano targeted ethnic Amharas.
“In the attack business shops, government offices, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia branch and other entities were extensively looted and destroyed,” it said, adding that many were injured in the attack.
A Chinese national was last month killed in Gebre Guracha, a town in the Oromia region and some 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of the capital Addis Ababa.
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Gunmen also killed more than 60 people in the region’s in Abora city last August according to EHRC.
Officials have blamed the OLA for a number of massacres targeting Amharas although the rebels have denied responsibility. (AFP)