As Tigray calms, Ethiopia sees growing conflict in Oromia

Dec 13, 2022, 10:20 AM | Updated: Dec 14, 2022, 12:21 am
FILE - Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a final campaign rally at a stadium in the to...

FILE - Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a final campaign rally at a stadium in the town of Jimma in the southwestern Oromia Region of Ethiopia, June 16 2021. Even as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attends the U.S.-Africa summit this week to promote last month's peace agreement between his government and authorities from the country's Tigray region, the larger region of Oromia appears increasingly unstable (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)

(AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — As one deadly conflict in Ethiopia begins to calm, another is growing, challenging a government that’s eager to persuade the international community to lift sanctions and revive what was once one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Even as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attends the U.S.-Africa summit this week to promote last month’s peace agreement between his government and authorities from the country’s Tigray region, the larger region of Oromia appears increasingly unstable.

Africa’s second most populous country, with 120 million people, is again wrestling with deadly tensions between ethnic groups and their armed allies. Both the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups, the country’s largest, allege killings and blame the other. With telecommunications often cut and residents often fearing retaliation if they speak out, the death toll in the violence in Oromia is unknown.

Speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity out of fears for their safety, several residents of Oromia described deadly attacks in recent weeks.

One witness in the region’s Kiramu district said his father and cousin were among at least 34 people killed since Nov. 24. He blamed soldiers under the control of the Oromia regional government, saying he saw their uniforms.

“It all started with a confrontation between a single local militia and members of the Oromia special forces,” he said. “The special forces killed the militia who was a member of the Amhara community, and then a week-long killing followed.” He estimated that hundreds of people have since fled the area.

An ethnic Oromo resident of Kiramu, however, accused an Amhara armed group known as the Fano of attacking and killing civilians and said he had seen more than a dozen bodies and buried four of them on Nov. 29.

“This militia group is killing our people, burning villages and looting everything we own,” Dhugassa Feyissa told the AP. “They shoot at anyone they find … be it public servants, police officers or teachers.”

The Oromo and Amara have lived together for years, he said, but they had never seen fighting like this before.

The deputy administrator of the Gidda Ayanna district, which also has seen some of Oromia’s worst violence in recent weeks, also blamed the Amhara Fano fighters.

“Civilians in our area are being killed, displaced and looted. This group is heavily armed, so it is no match for farmers who are defenseless,” Getahun Tolera said, noting that his district now hosts some 31,000 people who fled nearby districts. “We are still going house-to-house and discovering bodies.”

Ethiopian federal government officials declined to comment on the killings in Oromia and have not yet openly spoken about them. The prime minister last week said only that some “enemies with extreme views” were trying to destabilize the country, without giving details.

Ethiopian security forces, Oromo insurgents and Amhara militia are all battling each other in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, said William Davison, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

“Amid an intensifying government struggle against the rebels, all three have targeted civilians, particularly ethnic Amhara, which has led to an increase in violence by Amhara militia claiming to be defending their communities,” he said.

As Ethiopian federal security forces battle the Oromo Liberation Army, which the government has called a terrorist group, Oromo and Amhara residents and their armed allies also fight each other over grievances old and new.

Amhara settlers first moved en masse to Oromia in the 1980s during a famine in northern Ethiopia. They lived peacefully there until the past three years. The OLA split from an Oromo political organization and reportedly began targeting Amhara, at times as revenge for its losses to government forces. Amhara militia reportedly began targeting Oromos, and regional security forces became involved.

Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, followed by the Amhara, who have dominated the country’s politics for generations. Many Oromos were jubilant when Abiy, who identifies as Oromo, became prime minister in 2018. But that excitement has changed to frustration with the growing violence.

Rallies protesting the killings have been held in some communities in recent days. Last week, the government-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said “hundreds” of people had been killed in a “gruesome manner” in the past four months across 10 zones in the Oromia region, and it confirmed the presence of government forces, Amhara militia and the OLA in areas where repeated killings occur.

“The deliberate attacks against civilians in these areas are made based on ethnicity and political views … with the assertion that one supports one group over the other,” the commission said, urging the federal government to take urgent action.

Opposition parties also are speaking up. The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party, All Ethiopia Unity Party and Enat Party called for more security for the affected communities, and a senior Ethiopian official from the opposition National Movement of Amhara asked the federal government to intervene.

“The totality of us have become a country that shows no strong aversion to a continued bloodshed of innocents, wherever it may happen,” Belete Molla said in a Facebook post earlier this month.

Another prominent political figure, Oromo opposition politician Jawar Mohammed, earlier this month asserted that at least 350 people had been killed and over 400,000 displaced “just in the last 48 hours” in the Kiramu, Horo Guduru, Kuyu and Wara Jarso areas of Oromia.

“The government needs to quit pretending as if nothing is happening,” Jawar said in a Facebook post. “The conflict is fast becoming a communal war involving civilians. If not contained soon, it will likely spread to other parts of the two regional states and beyond.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Reporter arrested during news event on Ohio train derailment

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — A broadcast reporter was pushed to the ground, handcuffed and arrested for trespassing Wednesday while covering a news conference about the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in Ohio. NewsNation posted video of correspondent Evan Lambert being arrested in the gymnasium of an elementary school in East Palestine where […]
21 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
21 hours ago
Maria Chagwena, a millet farmer, holds a plate with millet grains outside her house in Zimbabwe's a...
Associated Press

UN eyes revival of millets as global grain uncertainty grows

RUSHINGA, Zimbabwe (AP) — While others in her Zimbabwean village agonize over a maize crop seemingly headed for failure, Jestina Nyamukunguvengu picks up a hoe and slices through the soil of her fields that are lush green with a pearl millet crop in the African country’s arid Rushinga district. “These crops don’t get affected by […]
21 hours ago
This Jan. 10, 2023, photo provided by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance shows a Pacific pocket mo...
Associated Press

Tiny California mouse wins Guinness award for longevity

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A tiny California mouse now has a big title after winning a Guinness World record for longevity. A Pacific pocket mouse named Pat — after “Star Trek” actor Patrick Stewart — received the Guinness approval Wednesday as the oldest living mouse in human care at the ripe age of 9 years […]
21 hours ago
This shows a Chinese Dahua brand security camera in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Aust...
Associated Press

Australian Defense Department to remove Chinese-made cameras

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Defense Department will remove surveillance cameras made by Chinese Communist Party-linked companies from its buildings, the government said Thursday after the U.S. and Britain made similar moves. The Australian newspaper reported Thursday that at least 913 cameras, intercoms, electronic entry systems and video recorders developed and manufactured by Chinese companies […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
As Tigray calms, Ethiopia sees growing conflict in Oromia