Ambo city of Ethiopia in a war zone?


By Ethiomedia
Posted to the web on May 3, 2014

May 3, 2014 (AMBO) –– At least ten vehicles were on Tuesday parked in front of Abebech Gedera Hotel, a favorite tourist hangout. Before owners got the time to move their vehicles, they were burned down.

It was a telling evidence Ambo was at the epicenter of an Oromo uprising against the regime in Addis Ababa.

"The gunfire was unlike any other time," said a long time resident of the city. "It was like the war in 1991 [when TPLF rebels clashed with Ethiopian soldiers on their way to toppling the Derg military regime in Addis Ababa].

Abebech Gedera Hotel where at least 10 vehicles were destroyed

Businesses were looted and and a bank ransacked. Scared of an ethnic conflict, non-Oromo residents took refuge in churches, mosques and the forest. No one targetted them for their ethnicity.

"The Amharas, Tigres, Gurages etc were scared for their lives but the conflict was purely politically motivated as none of them were targetted," said the source, who sought anonymity due to fear of government retribution.

"The destroyed businesses, for instance, belonged to Oromos, Amharas, Tigres and others. It shows the people were simply angry at government action, not at the indidivuals who live with them in peace."

But the casualty was hard to comprehend in Ambo.

"Eleven were killed from Ambo while six were gunned down in nearby Guder town," The opposition Oromo Federalist Council (OFC) said in a statement, adding "Ambo Hospital was flooded with the dead and injured, signifying the death toll could be higher than original figures." Earlier reports say at least 30 were killed, and no one has disputed the figure.

OFC has accused the ruling EPRDF regime of attempts to spark conflict between the Oromo and Amhara.

Oromo protests broke out against a City Master Plan of Addis Ababa, which has threatened to engulf about a dozen Oromia towns and hamlets into the Ethiopian capital. Protesters claim the Master Plan disregards the rights of millions of Oromo.

The government on Thursday said with a stern warning that a public discussion was afoot to debate the pros and cons of the controversial Master Plan. The state-owned radio ETV blamed the ongoing crisis on "few extremists who seek to gain power through turmoil and upheaval."

Also on Thursday, Sidist Killo and Arat Killo University campuses were cordoned off by a huge presence of police and undercover agents. The fear was students may spark protests, and that may spoil the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Addis.

Critics have over the years accused the ruling party of using "ethnic tension" as a method to instill fear in the society and get a credit for itself as a "savior" in the run-up to coming elections.

One killed, 70 Injured at Haromaya University

In the meantime, one student was killed and 70 others were injured when a hand grenade was hurled onto a crowd of Haromaya University students who were watching soccer games on TV, according to an ESAT report that quoted police as saying.

Police said an investigation was launched to identify the culprit behind the bomb explosion.

But the public sees the crime as the work of the government, an allegation supported by a WikiLeaks report: Recent bombings blamed on Oromos possibly the work of government."


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