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Ethiopia: Four Civilians Killed in Horo Guduru, Wollega

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Four civilians were killed during an attack in the Finchala district of the Horo Guduru zone, Wollega in West Ethiopia. According to VOA Amharic, residents and family members of the victims have confirmed this news.

The incident took place this past Monday. While residents and family members claim government forces were responsible for the killings, the district head, whose name is unspecified on VOA Amharic news, alleges that “Shane gunmen” were behind the attack. The group referred to by government authorities as “OLF-Shane” identifies itself as the “Oromo Liberation Army” (OLA).

Oda Terbi, the spokesperson for the “Oromo Liberation Army,” was cited as saying that government forces are targeting civilians. However, it remains unclear if he was specifically addressing the Finchala incident. He additionally stated that his forces are engaged in self-defense military activities in the area.

Failed Peace Talks

Residents in the Wollega area of Ethiopia were hopeful when Abiy Ahmed’s government and the “Oromo Liberation Army” initiated a second round of peace talks in Dare es Salaam, Tanzania, two weeks ago, which the Ethiopian government kept secret until last week. 

However, these hopes were dashed as the peace talks concluded without an agreement. It remains uncertain whether the two parties will convene again, except for the statement from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretary, Workeneh Gebeyehu, expressing hope for future meetings to continue discussions.

Both sides are accusing each other of sabotaging the peace talks.

Ethiopia’s Federal Government Ministry of Communication released an official statement on Wednesday, blaming the “Oromo Liberation Army” for the failure of the peace talks. The statement indicated that the armed group sought to be “piggybacked to power.” However, it refrained from disclosing the negotiation points, government offers, or what the militant Oromo Nationalist Group proposed in return.

The rebel group (OLA) also issued a statement this week, holding the government responsible for the talks’ breakdown. They asserted that the Ethiopian government aimed only to co-opt the OLA leadership instead of addressing the fundamental issues causing the country’s significant security and political challenges.

Oromo Liberation Army

The Oromo Liberation Army entered Ethiopia in 2018, then operating as a formal wing of the Oromo Liberation Front army, following an invitation from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration for armed groups to engage in non-violent struggle. The government attempted to disarm the group at one point, without success. Sources linked to the group revealed that one of the propositions from Abiy Ahmed’s government was immunity for the massacres committed and guarantees regarding wealth amassed during the armed struggle. The group has plundered over 300 state-owned and private banks in the Wollega region of Ethiopia and conducted numerous ransom kidnappings. The group is also linked to the massacre of tens of thousands of ethnic Amhara civilians in the Wollega area. In May 2021, the Ethiopian Parliament designated the group as a terrorist organization.

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