15 dead, thousands displaced in Ethiopia ethnic strife

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
A member of the Amhara Special Forces watches on at the border crossing with Eritrea while where an Imperial Ethiopian flag waves, in Humera, Ethiopia, on November 22, 2020.
A member of the Amhara Special Forces watches on at the border crossing with Eritrea while where an Imperial Ethiopian flag waves, in Humera, Ethiopia, on November 22, 2020.
EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP
  • The latest militia attack in Ethiopia has killed 14 civilians and one police officer.
  • Many civilians have been displaced since Wednesday, many have found refuge in schools and stadiums.
  • The violence has killed more than 300 people over several days in March.


At least 14 civilians and one police officer have died in the latest bout of ethnic violence in Ethiopia's Amhara region, officials said Monday, adding to a toll already in the hundreds.

Dozens of homes have burnt to the ground and thousands of civilians have been displaced since Wednesday alone, many of them now huddling in schools and stadiums, the officials said.

Ethiopia's military said Sunday it was sending in troops to try to calm the situation, which has amplified security concerns ahead of national elections planned for early June.

The Amhara region is dominated by the ethnic Amhara group, Ethiopia's second-largest.

The violence there has hit the North Shoa zone and the Oromo special zone, the latter of which is populated mainly by Oromos, the country's largest group.

Ethiopia's chief ombudsman, Endale Haile, told AFP earlier this month that the violence in Amhara had killed more than 300 people over several days in March.

After a short period of calm, it flared up again last week.

ALSO READ | Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed says Eritrea will withdraw troops from Tigray

"In this second round I've treated more than 30 injuries, and more than 10 people were killed," Wondwossen Zeleke, a health official in the North Shoa district of Antsokia, told AFP Monday.

"I'm seeing unprecedented killings, displacement, and mass arson of homes. All those victims were by gunshots," he said.

Teshome Yilma, administrator of North Shoa's Majete city, told AFP at least four farmers were killed in one area and a police officer shot dead in a separate incident.

Both officials said they expected the true toll would be much higher once communications were fully restored in the area.

They pinned the violence at least partly on the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel group.

But OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbii told AFP his group did not have a presence in the area and dismissed the claims as a pretext to drive Oromos out of Amhara.

- Abiy under pressure -

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, is under mounting pressure to address the violence.

The National Movement for Amhara, an opposition political party, on Monday criticised his response and said Amhara special forces should be empowered to protect civilians in the affected areas.

"It seems like the government is preventing the Amhara special forces from freely operating in the area and from taking down these armed criminals," Dessalegn Chanie, a senior member of the party, told AFP, adding he did not trust the military to restore order.

Abiy came to power in 2018 after several years of anti-government protests staged by Amhara and Oromo youth.

But his tenure has been marred by ethnic violence, and analysts warn national elections scheduled for June 5 could bring further insecurity.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Is social media doing more harm than good?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, our children are exposed and we can't protect them
49% - 5824 votes
Yes, but social media is part of the new reality
45% - 5360 votes
No, it's great for growing a child's world view
5% - 613 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.13
-0.9%
Rand - Pound
19.86
-0.3%
Rand - Euro
17.06
-0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.92
+0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Gold
1,814.47
-1.3%
Silver
26.96
-2.4%
Palladium
2,859.51
-2.8%
Platinum
1,215.34
-2.0%
Brent Crude
68.55
+0.3%
Top 40
61,529
+0.3%
All Share
67,424
+0.3%
Resource 10
71,663
+1.5%
Industrial 25
83,756
-0.5%
Financial 15
12,642
-0.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo