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Oromia regional state says 160 abducted students set free, parents tell a different story 

Parents of kidnapped students say all of the students are still under the Shene group, not released

Oromia _ abduction _ Ethiopian News
Hailu Adugna, Oromia regional state communication officer head (Photo : PD)

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Toronto – Debark University Students who were abducted last week are reportedly released. “Many of the students who were abducted last week by the terrorist Shene group were released after the government conducted a serious operation,” Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported on Wednesday citing Oromia regional state communication office. 

Hailu Adugna, Head of the Oromia regional state communication bureau, is cited as saying that 160 of the students are released and that 7 students are still under the captors. While indicating that security forces were involved in the release of the students, the regional government further said that work is still underway to secure the release of the remaining students.

Where the “Shene” group kept the knapped and why it was not possible to secure the release of the remaining seven students is unspecified. Also, it is unclear if there was an exchange of fire between the government security forces and the “Shene” group. 

There seems to be conflicting information about the story of students’ release too. 

BBC Amharic published a different story about the release of students. According to the source, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission told BBC Amharic that it heard from the Oromia regional state that 138 kidnapped students were released. It also mentioned that 18 students are not released. 

The parents of kidnapped students seem to have entirely different stories. BBC Amharic quoted a parent whose name was unspecified as saying, “all of the students are captured ; no one is released.” 

Another parent who spoke to his kidnapped children on the phone said that he was told “all of them more than 100 students are together, all of us are together.” 

The Shene kidnappers have been asking for a ransom ranging from 700,000 to 1,000,000 Ethiopian birr. Kidnapped students appear to call their parents to convey ransom demands from the kidnappers. 

Three passenger’s buses traveling from Amhara region to Addis Ababa – carrying over 100 Debark University Students, among others – were reportedly “kidnapped” in Gerbe Guracha District near Gohatsion on Wednesday last week. The Federal government and the Oromia regional state avoided remarking or talking about it until the government on Wednesday claimed that it has secured the release of the students. 

Government security forces reportedly responded to the situation after the Shene captors took the students more than five kilometers. 

The story made headlines among Ethiopian News outlets. 

Two days ago, the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ervin Massinga, remarked on the abduction saying   “…Abductions of civilians and students for financial gains must stop…” He related the recurring kidnappings for ransom to “prolonged conflict”  in the country. 

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