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Report: Massacre of Amhara Civilians by OLA in Qota and Silkamba

Report on the massacre of Amhara civilians by Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) militants in Qota town of Amaya Woreda and Silkamba town of NonoWoreda (West Shewa Zone of Oromia Region)

Updated April 11, 2024

The Amhara Association of America (AAA) has undertaken a human rights investigation of reported massacres in and near Qota town of Amaya Woreda and Silkamba town of Nono Woreda (West Shewa Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia). Accordingly, AAA has verified that between April 4 and 8, 2024, Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) militants massacred more than 35 civilians (mostly Amharas) and looted their belongings.

The first incident occurred on April 4th in Qota town. According to sources, federal security forces who were said to be stationed in the area completely withdrew from the area a week prior to the April 4th massacre incident. On the day of the incident (April 4) the OLA militants invaded the area late at night and began killing Amhara civilians early in the morning, before 6:00 a.m. AAA’s sources also indicated that the perpetrators carried out the massacre wearing ENDF military uniforms. The residents were initially confused thinking they were government security forces. They however identified the perpetrators were OLA militants by their distinct hair style and other characteristics (e.g. they spoke Afan Oromo).

Acting on direction from ethnic Oromo residents and local government officials, the militants selectively targeted Amharas who were considered economically better off. In addition, women, the elderly, and health station professionals were among the victims of the massacre. The killing lasted for at least 3 hours, with no government security forces deployed to protect the residents.

One of AAA’s sources described the situation, as follows,

“I came from the neighboring village; when I reached the scene of the attack, the militants had already left the area. I have seen over 23 bodies of the deceased, including three women. 11 of them were buried in the Muslim graves, while the bodies of the remaining 12 were sent to the Gurage Zone in Central Ethiopia.”

Another AAA source also corroborated the story, saying,

“Apart from the 11 deceased victims buried in Muslim graves, I know that more than 18 bodies were buried in different graves located in Gurage Zone, including in the Darge St. Mary, St. Kidane Mihiret, and St. Gabriel Orthodox churches in Gurage Zone.”

AAA was able to identify the names of 15 victims killed in the April 4th, 2024 Qota massacre as follows: (1) Ahmed Derese, (2) Semira Ahmed (female), (3) Ali Kasim, (4) Jemal Hassen, (5) Wale Muhe, (6) Kindu Arega, (7) Temesgen (last name unknown), (8) Ayalew Derese. (9) Abebaw (last name unknown), (10) Mustefa Mekonen, (11) Tsehay Amare (female health professional), (12) Bitweded (last name unknown), (13) Gashaw (last name unknown), (14) Genet Alemu (female health professional) and (15) Teshome Gebre-Tsadik (health professional). Among the killed victims, the first two, Ahmed Derese and Semira Ahmed, were father and daughter. Apart from the killing, the militants also looted properties belonging to Amhara residents. Shops, mobile centers, and supermarkets, mainly owned by the families of the killed victims, were extensively pillaged.

Until the time of preparing this report, high tensions have continued as OLA militants remain in the area with no federal security forces deployed to the area. Though the Oromia Region Special Forces (OSF) are present in the area, the Amhara residents are not confident in them as they often collaborate with the OLA militants. Instead of protecting the Amharas from OLA attacks, the OSF carried out abuses against those who attempt to defend themselves. As a result, there was a confrontation between armed farmers and state security forces in the days after the April 4th massacre.

In a separate incident that occurred on April 8th, the OLA militants killed at least nine civilians (mainly Amharas), wounded seven others, and looted residents’ properties in Silkamba town and neighboring villages in Nono Woreda (West Shewa Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia). Similar to the April 4th incident in Qota town, the OLA militants invaded the area late at night and began killing the civilians early in the morning. AAA’s sources indicated that the Woreda administrative officials failed to protect the residents from the OLA’s attack. They left the area prior to the OLA militants’ attack. This act led the residents to believe that the Woreda officials had prior knowledge about the attack and collaborated with the perpetrators. The attack was carried out in Silkamba town and two neighboring kebeles called Abeyi Yibeni and Mitari Yibeni. AAA’s investigations revealed that nine civilians were killed and an additional seven were injured in the attack. Among the victims killed and injured in the attack were women and seniors. Most of the victims of this incident were shot using rifles and heavy weapons, while some victims were killed by other methods. In several cases the killings were particularly brutal such as in the case of Yeshi Tefera who was burned alive inside her home.

Some of the victims (killed and injured) were local militias who were attacked when they confronted OLA militants in an attempt to defend residents from the OLA invasion. The local residents and militias were forced to act in self-defense because the government failed to deploy federal forces to repel the attack. According to sources, had the locals not been confronted with OLA militants and repelled the attack, the casualties would likely have been even higher.

Two of the wounded victims who were shot were from a single family (a mother and her 10-year-old son) and were reportedly targeted accused of being family members of a local militia. It was reported that they were seriously injured and are currently receiving medical treatment. Also among the injured victims was Wondimu Abera and a mother and daughter identified as Fatima Kibret and Merim Mohammed, respectively. AAA was able to identify the names of nine killed victims as follows: (1) an 80-year-old man named Shumete Faris; (2) a 40-year-old man named Umer Eshetu; (3) a 38-year-old woman named Abez Belay; (4) a 55-year-old man named Sitotaw Hassen; (5) a 36-year-old Oromo militiaman named Feyera Hailu; (6) a 45-year-old woman named Yeshi Tefera; (7) Gizaw Damte; (8) Kassaw Endire; and (9) an Oromo man named Mohammed Abdela.

In addition to the attacks targeting the Amhara civilians, the OLA militants also carried out extensive pillaging and destruction of properties belonging to the residents. AAA’s sources revealed that at least 20 residential homes were burned (mainly from Abeye Yibeni Kebele); more than 30 farm animals were killed; and hundreds of farm animals were looted by OLA militants. Following the April 8th massacre in Silkamba town and neighboring kebeles, a large number of residents left their homes and fled to neighboring villages fearing further attacks from OLA militants.

AAA was able to identify the names of 27 victims (mostly Amharas) killed or injured between April 4th-8th, 2024 in Qota, Silkamba and surrounding areas of West Shewa Zone (Oromia Region, Ethiopia). See here


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