Over 200 civilians killed as rebel group, government troops clash in Ethiopia

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June 20 (UPI) — Over 200 civilians have reportedly been killed in Ethiopia, the country’s human rights commission said Monday.

The civilians were killed in the country’s Oromia regional state Sunday, according to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which said it is calling for “a thorough criminal investigation into the video of the massacre.”

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The killings are related to ongoing conflicts between Ethiopian government troops and forces of the Oromo Liberation Army, often referred to as the militant arm of Ethiopia’s Oromo Liberation Front, which was formed in 1973.

“Following deadly attack & destruction by #OLA in Gimbi Western Wollega of #Oromia @EthioHRC urges authorities to ensure necessary measures for protection of civilians. All law enforcement operations should exercise maximum caution to avoid direct or indirect targeting of civilians,” EHRC Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele wrote on Twitter Sunday.

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“[The government must] Take necessary precautions against further attacks on civilians, take appropriate precautions to prevent civilian casualties in any case, and seek lasting solutions to the problem,” the EHRC said in a statement posted on its website, along with a map showing the area of the war-torn West Wollega zone where the killings occurred.

“The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is closely monitoring the ongoing attacks on civilians by government and armed forces in various parts of the country.”

In a statement, the Oromo Liberation Army denied it was responsible for the massacre.

“The Abiy regime is again blaming the OLA for atrocities committed by its own retreating fighters. The killings and property destruction that occurred in Tole, Gimbi district were committed by the “Gaachana Sirna” militia created by the Oromia state itself. #Ethiopia,” OLA spokesperson Odaa Tarbii wrote on Twitter.

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