Gunmen kill 54 people, burn houses in attack in Ethiopia
Gunmen have killed at least 54 people and torched more than 20 houses in a raid on an area of western Ethiopia, a regional administrator said on Monday.
Survivors of the massacre counted 54 bodies in a schoolyard in the village of Gawa Qanqa, which was targeted late on Sunday by suspected members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).
Most of the victims were women and children and elderly people, according to survivors who hid in nearby forests.
The incident is likely to ramp up pressure on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year’s Nobel peace prize, to improve security in a country struggling with ethnic violence.
The violence occurred in an area of western Ethiopia known as Wollega and involved up to 60 armed and unarmed assailants, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said.
It said the assailants targeted members of the Amhara ethnic group, Ethiopia’s second largest, and victims “were dragged from their homes and taken to a school, where they were killed”.
The EHRC said: “Official figures state a death toll of 32 civilians, but preliminary evidence obtained by the EHRC indicate the number is very likely to exceed that tally.”
Earlier on Monday, the Oromia regional government said the perpetrators belonged to the OLA, a group blamed for kidnappings and bomb attacks in western and southern Ethiopia.
A survivor from Wollega said the violence erupted after security forces stationed in the area abruptly and inexplicably left, allowing OLA fighters to round up civilians.