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DW Amharic - The Grief of Family Members of Abducted Students Disclaimer: This is an English translation of an Amharic article taken from DW Amharic and is intended solely for information purposes.

DW Amharic - The grief of family members of abducted students

July 8, 2024

Last week on Wednesday morning, more than 100 students departing from Amhara Region en route to Addis Ababa were abducted by militants in the Gerba Guracha area of North Shewa Zone in Oromia Region, leaving their families in a state of grief. Family members say the captors demanded ransoms two days after the abduction.

The more than 100 university students were primarily students from Debark University in Amhara Region who were traveling to the capital city of Addis Ababa by autobus, and after the students were abducted their captors demanded large ransoms according to parents of hostages who spoke to DW.

The abduction occurred in the Gerba Guracha area located approximately 155 km north of Addis Ababa along the highway leading to Amhara Region, and while some students reportedly managed to escape others were abducted. The majority of the students were predominantly from Debark town in North Gonder Zone and Bahir Dar city in Amhara Region. The students were traveling by three public transportation “tata” autobuses when on the morning of July 2, 2024 (Sene 25, 2016 EC) they departed from Dejen town where they had spent the night, and were abducted by the militants later that morning at around 9 am.

The disappearance of the hostages

Two of the autobuses set out from Debark University and one autobus set out from Bahir Dar city (Menaheriya), they all spent the night in Dejen and when they were en route to Addis Ababa, the abduction took place between Goha Tsion and Tulu Melki. The sibling of one of the Debark University students who was traveling to Addis Ababa says they heard their sister was abducted on Wednesday morning at around 9:30 am, and that two days after the abduction on Friday the captors demanded payment of ransom, and the family member of the victim told DW they heard the hostages are being transported from one area to another facing intense suffering. The family member of the victim said “since the day of their capture until today they have been on the move” adding they received a call on the morning of that day which allowed them to confirm this matter.

Demands for ransom made to the hostages

On Wednesday morning the hostages spent the night in Dejen town traveling to Addis Ababa on three autobuses when they were abducted before reaching Gerba Guracha says our source who said “I was listening to her on Wednesday as she was telling me they were being taken into the forests, and that it was possible they could return or not return and as I kept saying hello the call ended.” On Friday they had her make a call on their phone and had her ask for half a million birr, says a family member who heard this from the captors and told DW they demanded payment of this money within three days. Another source whose sister was attending Debark University says they learned of the abduction after receiving a call from the captors, and the source who is a resident of Hawassa town said the demand made was for a very difficult ransom. “The child is innocent. She was returning from her school. They are demanding money that is well beyond our means, so we are praying to God.” The source says the captors called demanding 700,000 birr but they explained they did not have the means to pay this amount.

The bitter grief of family members

Family members of the abducted students said they were under “horrific” circumstances and described being overcome by grief. The family members said “we are in intense grief” and that the hostages are helpless. DW made repeated attempts to contact the North Shewa Zone Oromia Region security administration head Ato Solomon Abeba on their personal phone to ask about the abduction and efforts by the government to free the hostages, and the official responded they would call back in 20 minutes but did not respond afterwards. This is not the first time similar abduction news stories have been reported from this area. Prior to this it has been reported many times that people were abducted and ransoms were demanded. In Oromia Region incidences of abduction for ransom are carried out by the group known by the government as “Shene” and which calls itself the Oromo Liberation Army. However the militants often deny these allegations rather than accept responsibility.

Seyoum Getu 

Azeb Tadesse

Tsehaye Chanie


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