Addis Ababa, Jul 5 (EFE).- At least 320 people, including several children and mothers, have been killed by gunmen suspected to belong to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, a local resident who witnessed the attack said.
OLA rebels opened fire on civilians belonging to the Amhara ethnic group in the Kellem Wollega area between 5pm and 9pm Monday, the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, told Efe.
Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed blamed the OLA, a splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front political party (OLF), for the killings.
“In the Oromia region, civilians in Kellem Wollega were massacred,” the prime minister wrote in a Twitter post.
“We will pursue this terrorist group to the end and eliminate it with our people,” he added.
Witnesses said that the regional forces were unable to access the scene of the attack until additional troops are sent due to the heavy deployment of rebels.
On June 18, more than 380 people were killed in an attack allegedly carried out by OLA rebels in several towns in Oromia, according to official figures.
The group, however, denied responsibility for the attack.
Ethiopia has been experiencing outbreaks of ethnic violence over access to more land and power in the regions of Oromia, Amhara and Benishangul-Gumuz.
OLA split from OLF after the latter decided to lay down its arms and return to politics at Abiy’s request in 2018.
Since then, the rebel group, declared a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government in 2020, uses Oromia as a base for its operations.
In a special operation to stop the OLA, the Ethiopian army has killed more than 1,000 rebels in the past two months, Abiy said during a speech in mid-June.
On June 14, dozens of deaths were reported in the surroundings of the eastern city of Gambella after another attack blamed on OLA rebels, according to regional authorities.
Ethiopia has already been plunged into turmoil in the course of a conflict between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which broke out in November 2020.EFE