The head of the African Union Commission on Wednesday called for an investigation into the deadly attacks in a troubled region of western Ethiopia and urged the authorities to ensure the protection of civilians.
At least two massacres have reportedly taken place in western Oromia in recent weeks, with Ethiopian authorities blaming the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) for the bloodshed.
African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat “has learned of reports of attacks in the Wellega zone of Oromia region in western Ethiopia that have killed hundreds of civilians,” the pan-African body said in a statement.
Faki “deeply regrets the loss of life and calls for an investigation into these attacks,” the statement said.
“It also calls on the Ethiopian federal government and regional authorities to take the necessary measures to protect all civilians, including minorities, and ensure that such incidents are prevented.”
In recent months, inter-ethnic violence has intensified in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest and most populous region.
The situation there has so far been largely overshadowed by the conflict in the north between federal forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPF) that erupted in November 2020.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said there had been a “massacre” in Kellem Wollega organized by the OLA on Monday and vowed to eliminate the group, which, like the TPLF, has been designated a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government.
The US-based Amhara Association of America said the attack was directed against ethnic Amhara, while a survivor quoted by the regional state-owned Amhara Media Corporation said at least 300 bodies were collected from the village.
Last month, Ethiopian authorities accused the OLA of killing several hundred, mostly Amhara, in the village of Tole in West Wollega, an area adjacent to Kellem Wollega.