At least 54 people from the Amhara ethnic group were killed in an attack late last night by suspected members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) armed group, Amnesty can reveal.
The attack on Gawa Qanqa village took place just a day after Ethiopian Defense Forces troops withdrew from the area unexpectedly and without explanation. Witnesses said dozens of men, women and children were killed and property looted. What the militants could not carry away they set on fire.
Gawa Qanqa village is in the Guliso District of West Wellega Zone.
Amnesty spoke to some of the survivors of the attack who escaped death by hiding in a nearby forest. They said that the attackers had identified themselves as OLA and said that they “controlled” the area as soon as government troops left on 31 October.
The survivors said they had counted 54 bodies in a school compound where the militants gathered people mainly women, children and the elderly – and killed them.
An eyewitness said that three of his relatives were killed – his father, his sister and his wife’s grandfather. Another said he lost his brother, sister-in-law and three children including nephews and cousins. Their bodies were found in the school grounds with bullet wounds.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, said the “senseless attack” is the latest in a series of killings in the country in which members of ethnic minorities have been deliberately targeted.
“The fact that this horrendous incident occurred shortly after government troops abruptly withdrew from the area in unexplained circumstances raises questions that must be answered” he said.
“The Ethiopian authorities must investigate what happened and prosecute those responsible for the attack through fair trials.” he added.