NAIROBI (Reuters) – Gunmen killed 30 people in an attack on a village in the west of the Ethiopian region of Oromiya late on Tuesday, witnesses said.
Clashes between ethnic groups have become a major challenge to the government in the country, which took its present form from territorial expansions of the 19th century.
Regional officials in Oromiya did not immediately comment on who was behind the killings in the western Wollega Zone of Oromiya. In the past they have blamed similar attacks on an armed group called OLF Shane.
Wossen Andarege, a farmer in the area, said that those who survived the attack, in which 15 more people were wounded, blamed it on OLF Shane. Representatives for the group were not immediately available for comment, however.
“We took the bodies using a car and we buried 30 people,” said Wossen, who added that he had heard gunshots when the attackers arrived.
The Oromiya region’s communications office said in a statement that an unknown number of civilians were killed in what it called a “terror attack”.
“The regional state is saddened by this horrific and gruesome attack,” it said.
Wossen said he and his family had fled to a nearby government office, where they were waiting for protection from federal troops.
OLF Shane is a splinter group from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), an opposition party that spent years in exile but was allowed to return to Ethiopia after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. Sporadic violence has rocked Ethiopia since then.
OLF Shane says it is fighting for the rights of the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the country.
(Reporting by Addis Ababa Newsroom; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Jon Boyle and Hugh Lawson)