In Sululta, nine individuals were reportedly abducted by gunmen believed to be members of the radical militant ethnic Oromo nationalist group known as OLF Shane, which the Ethiopian government labels as Shene.
This incident took place a mere 30 kilometers from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, as reported by local news provider Addis Maleda, citing area residents as their source.
The abduction occurred on Tuesday, in close proximity to the town administration building situated in an area called Addisu Kela, also known as “Qoda Fabrika.” Notably, the Ethiopian Defense Force maintains a military post in the nearby area of “Mizan.”
The gunmen entered Sululta on the night preceding the kidnapping. Residents also reported an exchange of gunfire during the incident, but it remains unclear which forces were engaged in the firefight. Apparently, the exchange of fire was to rescue the kidnapee which did not happen.
Despite OLF Shane being considered the military arm of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the motive behind this kidnapping does not seem to be politically driven; it appears to be a ransom kidnapping.
The perpetrators are demanding a ransom of 300,000 Ethiopian Birr per person, placing significant stress on the families of the victims, who may struggle to meet these demands.
The identities of the abductees have not been disclosed. However, sources in the area indicated that the gunmen contacted the kidnapped individuals via their cellular phones, instructing them to prepare an unspecified sum of money.
This incident is not the first time OLF Shane gunmen have ventured into Sululta for kidnapping purposes, according to reports. The source attempted to reach out to the head of Sululta town’s peace and security division, Tagel Mesele, but received no response.
Ransom kidnappings by individuals associated with the self-proclaimed Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), referred to as Shane by the government, have become increasingly prevalent in the Oromo region of Ethiopia over the past five years.
In recent weeks, the group kidnapped five employees of Ethiopian Electric Power near Aluto Langano, where they were engaged in a geothermal project. The gunmen demanded a ransom of 10 million Ethiopian Birr per person, an amount reportedly declined by the government. They are yet to be released and Aba Gaddas, Oromo spiritual leaders, are reportedly negotiating their release.
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