54 killed in schoolyard massacre in Ethiopia, mostly elderly women
At least 54 have been confirmed dead in a schoolyard massacre in Ethiopia, Amnesty International said
the attack targeted an ethnic minority and was carried out by a rebel group
who gathered the elderly, women, and children to a meeting before opening fire.
The rights organization added that federal soldiers had left the area hours before attackers moved
in and gunned down ethnic Amharas.
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Survivors of the massacre counted 54 bodies in a schoolyard in the village of Gawa Qanqa,
Most of the victims were women and children, and elderly people, according to survivors who hid in nearby forests.
The incident is likely to ramp up pressure on the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year’s
Nobel peace prize, to improve security in a country struggling with ethnic violence.
The violence occurred in an area of western Ethiopia known as Wollega and involved up to 60 armed
and unarmed assailants, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said.
It said the assailants targeted members of the Amhara ethnic group, Ethiopia’s second-largest, and victims
“were dragged from their homes and taken to a school, where they were killed”.
The EHRC said: “Official figures state a death toll of 32 civilians, but preliminary evidence obtained by the
EHRC indicates the number is very likely to exceed that tally.”
Earlier on Monday, the Oromia regional government said the perpetrators belonged to the OLA,
a group blamed for kidnappings and bomb attacks in western and southern Ethiopia.
A survivor from Wollega said the violence erupted after security forces stationed in the area abruptly
and inexplicably left, allowing OLA fighters to round up civilians.
“After collecting us, they opened fire on us, and then afterward looted cattle and burned down houses,”
said the survivor, who spoke on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.
“I have counted more than 50 corpses, and I know there were others hit by bullets.”