Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has condemned the killing of more than 200 people, most of them ethnic Amhara, in the eastern Oromia region.
Locals have blamed the killings on Saturday on the rebel Oromo Liberation Army, which has denied responsibility.
The federal government has reportedly deployed security personnel to the Oromia region but locals said it is not enough.
Ahmed Hassen from the Amhara community lost his brother and sister-in-law in the killings. Speaking to VOA by phone, Hassen said fighters circled their village and butchered the residents.
According to him, the militia came with guns and machetes. Hassen said while there’s calm in Oromia today, many families are too scared to bury loved ones.
Ahmed said there were 250 dead, and that this was just in one village. Many of the bodies still haven’t been buried, he said, simply because families are afraid to bury them.
“In the afternoon, yesterday when we tried to bury our loved ones, there were lots of snipers shooting, we couldn’t bury our family members,” he said. “We are not alive, we are waiting to die.”
In a tweet, Ahmed said the Federal Government’s key priority is to restore peace and security in affected communities.
He condemned the killings, saying the attacks on innocent civilians, destruction of livelihoods by illegal and irregular forces is unacceptable.
Both the government and locals blame the rebel Oromo Liberation Army for attack.
The group denies responsibility. Odaa Tarbii, the group’s spokesperson, told VOA it was government forces and the Oromia state-created militia Gaachina Sirna, which means “shield of order,” that were near Gimbi town where the attack happened.
He said it is not clear which armed group carried out the atrocity.
Odaa said many of those killed were not necessarily ethnic Amharas, noting that members of other tribes such as the Oromo and Afars are also residents of the town.
The Oromo Liberation Army is calling for an independent investigation into the killings.
Meanwhile, as more federal security personnel are deployed in Oromo to quell the violence, Prime Minister Abiy said there will be zero-tolerance for horrific acts claiming lives.