UN rights body urges for transparent probe into recent killings in Ethiopia

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet has urged Ethiopian authorities to promptly initiate and conduct transparent investigations into the recent killing of “hundreds of people” in western Ethiopia.

Bachelet on Thursday called for “prompt, impartial and thorough investigations into attacks that led to the killing of hundreds of people in the West Wollega zone, western Ethiopia, last weekend,” said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“I am horrified by the senseless killing as well as the forced displacement of the local population in the attack on Tole village,” an OHCHR statement quoted Bachelet as saying.

The UN Human Rights Office has spoken to witnesses who report that at around 9 a.m., on June 18, a group of armed individuals descended on the village of Tole, with a predominantly Amhara population, and reportedly began shooting randomly, leaving hundreds dead — most of them were women and children — and forcing at least 2,000 others to flee from their homes, the OHCHR added.

The armed individuals also reportedly burned down several houses during the four-hour assault, it said.

“I call on the Ethiopian authorities to ensure that investigations are promptly launched into the attack and to ensure that victims and their families have a right to truth, justice and reparations, including by holding those responsible to account,” Bachelet said.

The OHCHR added that an unspecified number of people are reported to have been abducted during the attack and their whereabouts remain unknown, Xinhua news agency reported.

Bachelet called on the Ethiopian authorities “to take all necessary and lawful measures to ensure those abducted regain their freedom”.

Amid increasing tensions and violence which has erupted in various regions of Ethiopia in recent weeks, the High Commissioner urged the government to ensure and protect the right to life.

An attack on ethnic Amhara farmers on Saturday in Tole rural locality, Gimbi district, West Wollega zone of Oromia regional state reportedly left many civilians dead.

Ethiopian government officials and survivors have accused the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) fighters of carrying out the weekend attack, a charge the rebel group has denied.

The Ethiopian government has not yet released casualty figures, though survivors reached by some international media on phone have put up a toll of more than 200 people.

The Ethiopian parliament had designated the OLA as a “terrorist group” in May 2021.

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