On June 18, a commando gunmen launched an attack in the regional state of Oromia, in the Wollega area and more specifically in the Gimbi district, targeting a civilian community and resulting in the deaths of about 300 people, according to initial reports that are difficult to verify.

The victims of the attack are said to be almost exclusively ethnic Amhara, while early reports suggest the violence was perpetrated by Oromo militias belonging to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/20/as-many-as-320-dead-in-ethiopia-gun-attack-witnesses-suggest), the armed and outlawed arm of the Oromia Liberation Front.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed strongly condemned the attack, describing the violence perpetrated as “horrific,” although without giving specifics as to the dynamics of the events. More outspoken was the government of the regional state of Oromia, which openly blamed the OLA for the violence.

Accusations that were dismissed by OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbii, according to whom the massacre was perpetuated by federal army soldiers fleeing the Gimbi area under the pressure of an offensive launched by rebel militias.

Although the dynamics of the events are still unclear, the violence allegedly occurred during an offensive launched by federal forces against OLA militias in the Wollega area, allied with Tigrinya forces, with the aim of driving them out of the region.

Fears of attacks on Amhara farmer communities residing in the region for more than 30 years had been raised as early as the past few months, when ethnically motivated violence intensified as a result of the conflict in Tigray (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/20/worsening-violence-western-ethiopia-forcing-civilians-to-flee).

According to the federal authorities’ version of events, the responsibility for the violence would lie with the OLA militias, who, in pursuit of their own splinter objectives and as part of their alliance with the Tigrayans, would seek to provoke the emergence of widespread interethnic violence in order to destabilize the region, affecting the Amhara communities that have resided in the area for several decades.

Of a contrary view is the OLA, which rejects the allegations and instead blames the federal government for supporting Amhara militias that are armed and determined to impose ethnic domination to the detriment of the local Oromo population (https://addisstandard.com/news-analysis-conflicting-narratives-as-violence-hits-east-wollega-again-claiming-hundreds-of-civilian-lives/).


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