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OLA Denies Monday Massacre

FILE: Displaced people from Western Oromia region. Taken 4.11.2021

Ethiopia's Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebellion on Tuesday denied responsibility for the massacre of civilians the day before in the Oromia region, and blamed a government-allied militia with the passive complicity of security forces.

"The regime thinks it can just point fingers and not be accountable to anyone," Oromo Liberation Army spokesperson Odaa Tarbii tweeted in response to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's accusation that the OLA massacred civilians in the administrative area of Qellem Wollega, in the far west of Ethiopia.

The OLA spokesman called for "independent investigations" so that "Abiy and others answer for their cruelty."

"Two divisions of the ENDF (the Ethiopian federal army), in the company of allied forces, occupy the localities of Qellem Wollega, including (the one) where civilians were killed en masse by regime militias while the security forces remained passive," Tarbii asserted.

According to the Amhara Association of America (AAA), based in the United States, which says it has spoken to survivors, the new massacre, committed in the "20 village", as previously targeted Amhara, the second largest ethnic community in Ethiopia after the Oromo.

That group said the attack began at dawn Monday and lasted several hours

The OLA had already been accused by the authorities and by survivors of having killed several hundred Amhara villagers on June 18 in the hamlet of Tole, located in the West Wollega area, neighboring that of Qellem Wollega and also in Oromia.

No official report of the Tole massacre has been published, but Billene Seyoum, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister, told the press on June 30 that 338 victims had already been identified.

OLA, the rebel group that has been fighting the federal government since 2018 in Oromia - the largest and most populous region of Ethiopia - had already denied responsibility. It accused a pro-government militia of the massacre.

Monday evening, Daniel Bekele, head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission - a public but statutorily independent institution - called for an "urgent reinforcement of government forces to prevent further civilian deaths" in this area of Oromia. .

He denounced "the incessant insecurity in the area and what amounts to an ethnically targeted killing".