Suspected rebels kill 15 civilians in western Ethiopia: official

Suspected Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels have killed 15 civilians in the Horo-Gudru Wollega zone of Oromia regional state, an Ethiopian official said on Saturday.

“Fifteen passengers travelling from Bure town in Amhara regional state west to Nekemte city in Oromia regional state were killed by suspected OLA rebels on Friday evening,” said Berhanu Yebase, chief police Officer, Horo-Guduru Wollega zone of the state.

Yebase said the suspected OLA rebels stopped a bus carrying dozens of passengers and forced the passengers to disembark from the vehicle.

Yebase further said the suspected OLA rebel forces then shot at point-blank range the passengers, killing at least 15 and injuring several others, reported state media outlet Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC).

The chief police officer for Horo-Gudru Wollega zone also said extra security forces have been deployed to the massacre site and consultations with local community members are planned to prevent a repetition of such kind of atrocities.

OLA is a breakaway faction of an ex-rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

OLF is an opposition political party claiming to fight for the rights of ethnic Oromos who make up about 35 percent of Ethiopia’s 110 million-plus population.

The OLF was designated as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian parliament in 2011. It was removed from the terror list in July 2018 to help facilitate negotiations and foster reconciliation.

However, a breakaway faction of OLF estimated to have nearly 3,000 fighters operates in the western and southern parts of Oromia regional state, the principal homeland of ethnic Oromos.