Update January 11,2023 Massacre of Amhara IDPs and civilians in Haro Kebele by Oromia Special Forces
Haro Kebele, Kiremu Woreda, East Wollega Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia.
AAA has verified from survivors and families of victims that on January 11th, 2023, heavily armed Oromia Special Forces (OSF) members (Oromia Regional Government forces) opened fire on Haro town and surrounding areas that resulted in the killing of at least 27 Amhara civilians and injury of an additional 15 Amhara civilians. The victims included vulnerable groups including women and children, most of whom were IDPs. The attack also resulted in the further displacement of residents and IDPs. The OSF used heavy machine guns and heavy artillery which are not legally permitted weapons for police forces like the OSF. Haro town. Kiremu Woreda, East Wollega Zone, Oromia Region, which hosts an estimated 80,000 IDPs amidst a state-imposed siege, has seen such frequent attacks by the OSF and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).
The January 11th, 2023 ethnic-based massacre
AAA’s sources (eyewitnesses and survivors) confirmed after attacking the town of Haro (Kiremu Woreda, East Wollega Zone) on December 23rd, 2022, that the OSF setup camp 7 km away in Kiremu town of the same woreda.1 The OSF camp received personnel and weapon reinforcements from the nearby town of Nekemte of East Wollega Zone. On January 9th, 2023, after amassing heavy artillery (mainly mortars) and machine guns, the OSF began to encircle Haro town from three directions. Around 7:00 am on January 11th, 2023, the OSF opened fire and shelled the town. Bullets from the heavy machine guns and mortar shells resulted in the indiscriminate killing and injury of Amhara IDPs and residents in the town. AAA’s several sources put the death toll between 27 to 36 people and the number of injuries at 15 to 25 people. AAA was able to confirm the names of 27 of the deceased and 15 civilians that were injured.
Mohammed Ahmed (name changed), an IDP living in Haro town after fleeing the November 18th-20th, 2022 attack in Kiremu town, and a wounded survivor of the December 23rd, 2022, Haro attack told AAA’s investigators the following:
“It is the innocents that were massacred. They were killed with dishka (machine guns). They (OSF) just swarmed the town (Haro) with bullets from dishka, brail, and mortar shells. I personally saw a fired mortar shell. I know 27 of the people that died. Many more who I could not count were injured. Yasin Yimam was injured after being shot in the gut by a stray bullet while he was in the middle of the town. He was not in the fighting zone nor was he fighting.”
Another resident of Haro town, Yesuf Tesfaye (name changed) recounted the incident as follows:
“They (OSF) attacked us from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. They killed our people (Amharas), too many to count using dishka and brail. Even women and children who could not fight were hit by mortar [shells] in the middle of the town. Among the dead, I knew Ismail (40-years old) who was killed by mortar shells while staying in the town and Suleiman Indris (15 years-old) who was killed by heavy artillery. We have counted 25 dead people so far. Many more were injured. 12 heavily injured people are being taken to Amhara Region on foot. We are still hearing that they (OSF) are preparing to come and attack us again.”
Haile Getachew (name changed), a severely wounded survivor and hospitalized at Tibebe Ghion Hospital (Bahir Dar city, Amhara Region) recounted the situation to AAA’s investigators as follows:
“Fighting began when they (the OSF) came and attacked the town (Haro). The fighting took place on the outskirts of the town. We went there to help defend the town. We started heading back to town thinking they (the OSF) had retreated and the attack had ended. Suddenly, they (the OSF) shot my friend, Yimene (deceased). As I was dragging him to safety, a brail bullet shot me in my leg below the knee. I fell on my back and a second bullet hit me on the same part. A third bullet struck me on the edge of my testicle and went up around my kidney. Now my leg is broken. Another guy named Ismail was shot dead in front of me. Dessalegn Tibebu, who is here (Tibebe Ghion Hospital), was shot in the mouth next to me. I saw the fighters who shot us all. They wore the special police (OSF) uniforms, their weapons were mostly brail but also had dishka, snipers, and even mortars.”