4700 arrested in connection killings, unrest in Oromo region of Ethiopia

Authorities in Oromo regional state say report about number of people dead in connection with the unrest is incorrect

Getachew Balcha _ Oromo region
Getachew Balcha, Communications Bureau head of the Oromo region . Photo : ENA

July 8, 2020
Updated on July 9, 2020

4700 people arrested in connection with unrest and killings following the assassination of Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa.

The acting police commissioner of Oromo regional state, Mustafa Kedir, is cited, by VOA Amharic, as saying that 3100 are arrested in the Oromo region of Ethiopia. The remaining 1600 are arrested in the capital Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian government has established that the attack on innocent citizens was a coordinated one and that it was part of a grand plan to drag the country to civil war.

Although the government report failed to mention explicitly and unequivocally, other sources based on eyewitness accounts and testimonies from victims indicated that the attack was clearly targeting ethnic non-Oromos. It was ethnic cleansing as many activists have argued.

According to the latest report, at least 239 people have been brutally killed by radical ethnic Oromo nationalists which the government linked with Oromo Liberation Front Shane. However, security authorities in the region deny that the number of deaths reported by international media is incorrect; they think it is only 166.

At least 229 other people have sustained serious wounds most of which are believed to lead to long term disability.

When the extremists unleashed their attack on defenseless people, authorities in the security sector did not act quickly enough; in some places attackers were even ignored, to avert loss of lives.

The extent of the destruction of property is of great magnitude -, especially in Shashemene and Ziway cities. It is as if the extremists were deployed with an order to implement scorched earth policy. Again, the targets were ethnic non-Oromos.

Mayor of Shashemene town, Temam Hussien, and chief of security in the city, Nadew Ambo, is in custody over inaction to stop the destruction property in the city whose official estimate is not yet released. It is confirmed that, however, at least 20 buildings are completely destroyed. Over 200 businesses are destroyed. 

Schools, hotels, factories, and convenience stores are among businesses completely destroyed. 

Ethiopian long-distance legend Haile Gebreselassie’s hotel in Shashemene and Ziway are attacked too. A few months ago his agribusiness investment in Tepi, south Ethiopia, was vandalised.  

All the attacks and destruction of properties reportedly started within hours after the news of Hachalu Hundessa’s death was reported. Another striking point is that the attacks essentially happened at the same time in over 40 districts in the region.

According to the Ethiopian government, the plan was to spark a large-scale civil war. Authorities in the Oromo region of Ethiopia claim a relative calm is restored.

For ethnic non-Oromo living in the region, the calm is uneasy and they fear that the massacre could happen again. Hundreds are still staying in police stations.

Many of those who saved their lives are also reduced to homelessness as their homes are completely destroyed.  

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