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Ethiopia attack: Dozens 'rounded up and killed' in Oromia state

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image copyrightReuters
image captionPrime Minister Abiy Ahmed has relaxed controls in what had been a tightly controlled state

Gunmen have killed at least 32 people and set fire to homes in a "horrendous" attack in western Ethiopia, officials say.

Local authorities said the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) was to blame for the attack in Oromia state.

Residents said dozens were rounded up and killed and livestock was stolen.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Sunday's attack in Guliso district, in the Oromia region, may have been identity-based.

Ethnic violence has increased since Mr Abiy took office in April 2018, loosening controls in what had been a highly centralised state.

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"Ethiopia's enemies are vowing either to rule the country or ruin it, and they are doing everything they can to achieve this. One of their tactics is to arm civilians and carry out barbaric attacks based on identity, [for me] this is heart breaking," Mr Abiy said in a Twitter post.

What happened in the attack?

Survivors counted 54 bodies in a school compound where the militants, who identified as OLA members, gathered people who did not manage to flee, mainly women, children and the elderly, and killed them, rights group Amnesty International said in a statement.

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A survivor told AFP news agency that security forces stationed in the area left and the OLA then rounded up civilians.

"After collecting us, they opened fire on us, and then afterwards looted cattle and burnt down houses," they said.

The OLA is an armed group that has been blamed for kidnappings and bomb attacks in western and southern Ethiopia. The OLA broke off from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) - an opposition party that spent years in exile and returned to the country after Mr Abiy took office in 2018.

A local official told the BBC a team had been sent to Guliso district to investigate, anticipating the death toll could be "high".

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said up to 60 "armed and unarmed assailants" were involved in the attack, which was carried out on Sunday.

It said members of the Amhara ethnic group, the country's second largest ethnic group, were targeted. The Amhara branch of the ruling Prosperity Party also released a statement supporting the EHRC's report.

Mr Abiy said that "measures have started to be taken against the attackers".

The head of the African Union Moussa Faki condemned the violence and urged Ethiopians to refrain "from inflammatory rhetoric and work towards de-escalating tensions in the country".

Related Topics

  • Ethiopia
  • Abiy Ahmed

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