NAIROBI, Kenya — Witnesses allege that several dozen civilians and fighters have been killed in the latest clashes between Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups in central Ethiopia.
The fighting erupted Saturday in Jewuha town in the Amhara region. One witness, like others speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, told The Associated Press that fighters thought to be with the rebel Oromo Liberation Army attacked a camp used by Amhara special forces and killed more than 20 of them. The witness said they helped to bury three civilians as well.
Fighting has spread to other towns, the witness said. Another witness in Jewuha involved in burials said “several dozen” bodies had been collected.
A witness in Ataye town in the Amhara region alleged that clashes between OLA and Amhara special forces were ongoing and thousands of civilians were fleeing. A doctor at Shewa Robit hospital told the AP it had received the bodies of “several people” since Monday as well as some victims with serious injuries.
The Amhara regional government on Wednesday confirmed the clashes and said members of the federal army, federal police and Amhara regional forces were working to bring the situation under control.
A federal police spokesman didn’t respond to calls. An Ethiopian government spokesman, Legesse Tulu, hung up.
Some Amharas and Oromos, two of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, are in a bitter rivalry over new and old grievances. Amharas have been targeted in several locations across the neighboring Oromia region, prompting Amhara militias to deploy.
Oromos also have alleged being targeted in deadly attacks by Amharas. The Oromo Legacy Leadership and Advocacy Association in a statement this week said that “under international law, the Ethiopian federal government has a duty to protect its citizens.”