Ethnic attacks leave several dead outside Ethiopia’s capital

Attacks linked to land and resources not new in East African nation of over 80 ethnic groups

Overnight ethnic-based attacks in the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, resulted in the deaths of several people and caused hundreds to flee their homes.

“Several lives were lost and properties damaged due to this attack,” head of the Oromia police commission, Alemayehu Ejigu, told the state broadcaster ETV on Sunday. He said 70 suspects have been arrested.

“The perpetrators are criminals organised in groups to kill people and cause damages to the properties of targeted citizens,” he said. “This is a shameful act.”

The killings were denounced by Ethiopia’s new, reformist leader.


"Prime minister Abiy Ahmed strongly condemns the killings and acts of violence against innocent citizens ... These cowardly attacks represent a grave concern to the unity and solidarity of our people & will be met with appropriate response," said Fitsum Arega, the prime minister's chief of staff, in a tweet.

Police said the attacks started late on Saturday afternoon in the Burayu and Ashewa Meda areas just outside of the capital.

They did not say what prompted the violence.

Scores of Addis Ababa residents demonstrated in front of the premises of the state broadcaster, calling for the perpetrators, whom they suggested were youths from the surrounding Oromia region, to be brought to justice.

Some areas in the north and northwestern parts of Addis Ababa remained tense on Sunday.

City officials visited the displaced on Sunday morning pledging support but Ethiopians are expressing anger on social media and urging the prime minister to take serious measures to stop ethnic-based attacks.

Such attacks, linked to land and resources, are not new in this East African nation of more than 80 ethnic groups. However, the severity of such attacks has grown in recent months.

The UN Children's Fund Unicef said in August that as many as 2.8 million Ethiopians were internally displaced, mainly due to ethnic-based attacks in various parts of the country.

Frustrated by the wave of conflict, Ethiopia’s leader warned in recent weeks that those instigating violence should stop or his government would be forced to take measures.

“We are only humans, so we won’t sit and watch them from now on,” he said.

On Sunday, Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki and Mr Ahmed met Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to sign a peace deal to end a 20-year conflict between the two countries. – PA