At least 23 people were killed in a weekend of violence targeting minorities in the ethnic Oromo heartland near the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a police source said.
The state-owned Ethiopia News Agency (ENA) said an organised mob looted and carried out a series of murders in and around Burayu town. Oromia Regional Police Commissioner Alemayehu Ejigu says 886 people were displaced as a result of the violence.
The unrest followed a mass rally last week marking the return to Ethiopia of the leadership of the exiled Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) group, which had fought an insurgency for self-determination for Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.
ENA reported that over 70 people had been arrested.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said the leader “strongly condemns the killings and acts of violence against innocent citizens.”
PM Abiy Ahmed strongly condemns the killings & acts of violence against innocent citizens around Ashawa Meda, Kataa & Fili Doro last night. These cowardly attacks represent a grave concern to the unity & solidarity of our people & will be met with appropriate response. #Ethiopia
— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) September 16, 2018
The weekend killings followed the triumphant return from exile of leaders of the once-outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebel group who struck an agreement to lay down arms with reformist Prime Minister Abiy.
The incidents are the latest in a spate of attacks carried out along ethnic lines since reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali came to power in April, the first Oromo leader in the ethnically diverse country’s modern history.