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Dozens of civilians killed, property burned by Amhara forces in Oromia zone

NewsDozens of civilians killed, property burned by Amhara forces in Oromia zone

In an attack that began on Saturday the 20 of January 2023, Amhara forces killed dozens of civilians and burned properties in the Jille Dhummuga district of the Oromo Zone, Amhara region, several residents told the BBC.

According to the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), 65 civilians have been killed since Saturday. The OLF blamed Amhara regional forces and the notorious militants widely known as Amhara Fano, a group that has been implicated in horrific atrocities in the war between Tigrayan and federal forces, including mass rape, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international.

According to Ahmed Aliyi, the administrator of the zone, violence broke out on Saturday after a dispute between local Oromos and members of Amhara forces in Jewha resulted in the deaths of seven Oromo youth, which led to further clashes between local residents and Amhara forces.

Another resident who spoke to the BBC said Amhara forces opened fire on chat-chewing youth, accusing them of being members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA.)

The security crisis, which on Saturday was only limited to Jewha, quickly spread over the following days reaching Efrata Gidim districts and Hataye town.

 A graphic video filmed and posted on social media by Amhara militants from the district shows property belonging to ethnic Oromos being looted and the rest put on fire.

“It is a Galla property; burn it.”

The footage appears to have been captured as Amhara militants looted a granary and were unsure what to do with the part that remained. “For the sake of Marry, are we going to light it on fire even after loading all of this?” asks one person, to which another replied, “burn it; it’s a property that belongs to Gallas.” Galla is an Amharic equivalent of “negro,” a pejorative term thrown at ethnic Oromos by Amhara hardliners.

According to a government official who spoke to the BBC, federal forces have been deployed to the zone and are expected to contain the rapidly escalating violence.