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BBC Amharic - Parents of Students Abducted Last Week Asked to Pay Ransom for Their Release After Claims They Were Released



https://www.bbc.com/amharic/articles/ckdgrg580jno Disclaimer: This is an English translation of an Amharic article taken from BBC Amharic and is intended solely for information purposes.


BBC Amharic - Parents of students abducted last week asked to pay ransom for their release after claims they were released


July 10, 2024


According to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and Oromia Regional Government the majority of students abducted last week by militants have been released however family members of hostages say they remain abducted.


Last week on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2024, more than 100 university students traveling on three autobuses from Amhara Region to Addis Ababa were abducted by militants in North Shewa Zone of Oromia Region.


It has been discovered that the majority of the hostages are students from Debark University and both students and family members of captives told BBC the abduction was carried out by “Shene” militants operating in the Gerib Guracha area of North Shewa Zone in Oromia Region.


The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) told BBC it received information from local officials that days after the abduction, security forces carried out operations which led to the release of 138 abductees.


The commission says at this time only 18 students remain captive and stated it was still working to confirm when the other hostages would be released.


BBC spoke to two family members of captives who said this was news to them and said they were working to gather ransom money to free their children.


One family member of a hostage said “all the students remain detained, no one has been released” which was in direct contradiction to information received from local officials.


This morning, July 10th, 2024 (Hamle 3, 2016 EC) a close family member of a hostage said they received a call from the hostage who used one of the captors’ phones and said they (the hostage) were being held with more than 100 other students.


Since the day of the abduction, the militants divided the hostages into groups and forced them to travel, and on Monday they were taken to an unknown location.


A family member of one of the hostages said, “everyone is gathered, more than 100 students are being held in one place, we have been told we are all together” adding “there has been no effort to resolve it” mentioning that they had lost hope in the government.


They expressed their grievance to BBC saying “making peace with them (the militants), paying them the money and hoping they will release them. The government is not doing anything about it so we have lost hope in the government”.


The parent said information was sent to the government and outside of paying the ransom money to have them freed no other option was hopeful.


A lot of information has been gathered, we have been asked many questions and we have given answers, we have wept and we have shouted. No one has come to the rescue of the children. Therefore if we can gather money from various places, and weep or plead to them (the militants) we just want to have our children returned. Since there is no other solution we have lost hope.”


They are threatening them saying to call your parents and have them deposit money, they are still there” said another parent who said their child's life was in danger. 


[The militants are saying to them] ‘today is the final day, despite your efforts you will soon die.’ They used to distribute dry bread, but now they are saying they won't even provide that. We too are afraid they will come after us so we have laid out mats and have begun begging” said a parent who spoke to BBC about going to the market to gather money.


They said their child called and spoke to them yesterday on Tuesday, July 9th (Hamle 2) saying they were being held with 35 other hostages.


We do not know what the captors have done since then” said a father of a hostage saying they were waiting for a call from their child.


Despite these accounts from family members of hostages, the Oromia Regional Government says “security forces” have taken measures leading to the release of 160 students.


Today on July 10th, 2024 (Hamle 3, 2016 EC) domestic TV network Asham reported Oromia Regional Communications Bureau Chief Ato Hailu Adugna says of the 167 abducted students only seven remain unreleased.


The abduction was carried out 155 km north of Addis Ababa afterwhich some students escaped, while others were released “after their place of origin was identified” which BBC previously reported.


The majority of the travelers were university students traveling on three autobuses which set out from Debark town in North Gonder Zone and Bahir Dar city of Amhara Region.


Abductions for ransom have become increasingly common, and these crimes have been carried out by the designated terrorist group known as “Shene” by the government and otherwise known as the Oromo Liberation Army, however the group has not commented on the abduction.


Family members of hostages who spoke to BBC did so on condition of anonymity for their protection. BBC has modified references to hostages and their family members.


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