Ethiopia: Oromo rebels behind new ethnic massacre?


At least 29 were killed, including women and children, when gunmen attacked a church at Debos Kebele, a village in Horo Guduru zone of Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state on March 5. Local residents were gathered in the church to celebrate the start of the two-month Lent fast by followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo rite. The massacre was the bloodiest in a wave of attacks on residents of the Amhara ethnicity in the region over the past months.  The National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) blames the attacks on the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), but also accuses the central government of complicity. NaMA said that at rallies in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the region, Amhara are stigmatized and referred to by the pejorativeneftegna—meaning “rifleman” or “musketeer,” a reference to armed settlers in Oromia under the Amhara-dominated Abyssinian monarchy.

After a long insurgency, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) laid down arms and reorganized as a legal political party in 2018, when Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s first Oromo prime minister, came to power. But one OLF commander, Kumsa Diriba AKA “Jaal Maro,” has refused to honor the peace deal and remained in arms. His faction continues to carry out attacks in the name of the OLA, which had been the armed wing of the OLF.

The OLA issued a statement denying responsibility for the massacre at Horo Guduru, asserting: “[W]e do not target anyone based on ethnicity or religion… [T]he vast majority of our forces in Horo Guduru are Orthodox Christians themselves. Furthermore, as stated before, our troops face stiff penalties for killing civilians; there is no tolerance for such acts.”

The OLF, meanwhile, just announced that it has withdrawn from the upcoming election in Ethiopia, charging the Oromia regional government with raiding its offices and arresting its leaders, making it impossible to freely campaign. (Addis Standard, Addis Standard, Addis Standard, Borkena, Borkena, Satenaw, BBC News)

Photo via Addis Standard