Oromo Liberation Front reportedly launched military activity in Ataye, at least three killed

Oromo Liberation Front has denied that it does not have any armed troops.

Oromo Liberation Front _ Ataye
Photo : file (AMMA)

October 7, 2019

The town of Ataye in North Shewa zone of Amhara regional state in North Central Ethiopia is once again under attack from politically charged ethnic nationalist group. The first military activity was launched in April 2019.

Residents and government blame the armed wing of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) according to a report by DW Amharic on Monday. They also said that as many as six people were killed in the attack but the identities of the victims are not released.  However, government authorities in the region confirmed the death of three people and five others were wounded.

The town has been under a tense security situation since last Saturday as per the report which cited residents and government authorities.

What happened, based on residents’ accounts, is that on Saturday an armed man, not identified by name, and was trespassing to an area where the region’s Special Forces are a station near the town. He was told to stop but he was not complying with the order and continued to approach them. Then Special Forces had to shoot the person.

It was following that incident that the militant wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) opened fire from different directions of the city.  Government communication affairs office head of North Shoa, Mamush Yilma, confirmed that the incident of an armed man shot by the region’s special force has triggered the Oromo Liberation Front army to open fire which seems to suggest that the armed man who was shot dead as he was heading to the region’s Special Forces is likely an OLF gunman.

Mamushet also told DQ Amharic that OLF armed group is attempting to siege the town of Ataye from different directions. The exchange of fire is not entirely stopped.

A resident of Ataye town, name not disclosed, has told DW Amharic that roads to and from the town are closed.  Members of the Ethiopian Defense Force and Amhara region’s security forces are nearby but there is no stability, the resident added.

The road between Addis Ababa and Debre Berhan, which is about 120 kilometers north of Addis Ababa, was also closed due to the security crisis in Ataye.

The radical ethnic Oromo nationalist organization (OLF) denied the allegation saying that “it no longer has armed troops.”  Tolera Daba who is the spokesperson of the organization said: “We have repeatedly said that we don’t have an armed group and the allegation is false.”

Many Ethiopians say, rightly, that OLF a radical Oromo ethnic nationalist organization with irredentism like claims of territories within Ethiopia has been clandestinely operating from within the administrative structure of what used to be Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) which rebranded itself as Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) under the chairmanship of Abiy Ahmed who is currently the prime minister of Ethiopia.

OLF claimed ownership right over Addis Ababa. ODP has supported the position and issued a statement of its own sometime this year. 

For many Ethiopians, radical Oromo ethnic nationalism is taking is a fight and territorial claims to northern Ethiopia and it is doing so while at the same time breaking apart Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region through a lesser proxy ethnic organization like Sidama.

Sometime last week, all Oromo political organizations including OLF and ODP signed an agreement to work together.

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