After the 18 June massacre in Gimbi Woreda (which claimed the lives of some 1600 ethnic Amhara) was followed by a massacre on 4 July in Hawa Gelan Woreda, which claimed the lives of around 300 ethnic Amhara in the western Oromia Region. The massacres were perpetrated by Oromo ethno-nationalist militants. Authorities blamed the ‘Shene’ group, which denied responsibility, blaming instead a group linked to the Oromia regional government.
On 6 July, Hangaasa Ahmed Ibraahim, an ethnic Oromo member of the Ethiopian Parliament and member of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party, publicly denounced Oromia regional authorities, blaming them for the insecurity in Oromia Region.
In a live video message posted to Facebook, Hangaasa Ahmed claimed there are ‘two Shene groups’: the original group is now known as the Oromo Liberation Army and a group he calls, ‘Sabotage Shene’, which he maintains is organised by the Oromia Regional Government.
Claiming he has abundant proof, Hangaasa Ahmed warned that the massacres would continue unless the Oromia regional state president, the Oromia Prosperity Party head, and the Oromia Police Commissioner were all
removed from their positions. Ethnic cleansing (targeting Amhara generally) and ethnoreligious massacres (targeting Amhara Christians specifically) have been occurring in Oromia Region for years now. Violence is escalating.
On 21 July, Al-Shabaab militants crossed from Somalia’s Bakol zone into the Afdheer zone in Ethiopia’s eastern-most Somali region. The jihadists took control of Hulhul town, where they battled government forces for three days before ultimately being forced to retreat, losing around 100 fighters, 13 vehicles and numerous weapons. Analysts believe Al-Shabaab was ‘testing the waters’ to see if Ethiopian forces were still capable of repelling a jihadist attack. Regional officials believe Al-Shabaab harbours plans to reach Oromia Region and join forces with the Oromo Liberation Army.
However, as Mustafa Mohammed, the president of Ethiopia’s Somali Region, said on 25 July, ‘A united people and functioning state can never be intimidated by ragtag outfits like Al-Shabaab.’
RLPB has long warned that a destabilised Ethiopia would be vulnerable to Islamic jihadist infiltration and terror – not only via Somalia but also via Sudan.
May God enable Ethiopia to grow in strength and unity for the sake of the Church and the whole Horn of Africa. (Please Pray!)
- Written by Elizabeth Kendal for Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (655), 26 July 2022.
- Image by Hanna Grace on Unsplash.