Ethiopia Peace Observatory Weekly: 9 - 15 July 2022 [EN/AM]


By the Numbers: Ethiopia, 2 April 2018-15 July 2022

  • Total number of organized violence events: 3,100
  • Total number of reported fatalities from organized violence: 17,701
  • Total number of reported fatalities from civilian targeting: 8,016

By the Numbers: Ethiopia, 9-15 July 2022

  • Total number of organized violence events: 22
  • Total number of reported fatalities from organized violence: 190
  • Total number of reported fatalities from civilian targeting: 33

Ethiopia data are available through a curated EPO data file as well as the main ACLED export tool.

Situation Summary

Extrajudicial killings by government forces continued in Oromia region. Last week, ACLED recorded four such events in the region. Most of these extrajudicial killings were recorded in East Wollega zone. On 10 July, members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) reportedly shot and killed one youth in Haro Gudisa in Bila Seyo woreda in East Wollega zone after accusing him of sharing information with Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)-Shane rebels. Similarly, it was reported on 12 July that ENDF and Fano militia members shot and killed seven people in Muka Roba kebele in Limu woreda in East Wollega zone. The victims were accused of having links with the OLF-Shane. On 13 July, government forces, presumably the ENDF, shot and killed two people in Bariso kebele in Haro Limu woreda in East Wollega zone over accusations of having connections to the OLF-Shane. Moreover, around 13 July, the ENDF shot and killed two brothers in Kawa Gebeya kebele in Boset woreda in East Shewa zone over similar accusations.

Last week, two armed clash events were recorded in Oromia region (see map in the PDF). Around 13 July, the ENDF conducted a military operation against OLF-Shane militants in an unspecified location in Boset woreda in East Shewa zone. Government forces claimed to have killed an unknown number of militants and seized five AKM guns, two grenades, 200 ammunitions, 164 Bren gun ammunitions, four ballistic battle belts, and 12 cluster munitions. It was also reported that federal police and Oromia regional special forces conducted a military operation against OLF-Shane militants in four unspecified woredas in East Shewa zone. Government forces claimed to have killed 129 and captured 17 members of the OLF-Shane.

The OLF-Shane was also involved in other incidents in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples region (SNNPR). On 13 July, members of the OLF-Shane allegedly killed four and wounded five farmers in Waleme kebele in Burji special woreda. The armed group also reportedly looted around 50 cattle. However, the rebel group denied the allegation. The same day, members of the OLF-Shane allegedly killed a farmer in an unknown rural area in Amaro special woreda. The rebel group denied involvement in this attack as well (VOA Amharic, 15 July 2022).

In Amhara region, government forces fought against suspected OLF-Shane militants in North Shewa and Oromia special zones last week. These events are discussed in detail in the Weekly Focus section. Further, Qemant ethnic militiamen and an unidentified armed group reportedly entered Shumet Mendoka (Borni) village in Metema woreda in West Gondar on 9 July at midnight and opened gunfire on civilians, killing six people and wounding four others. The militants also looted over 1,500 cattle and destroyed civilian properties. On 12 July, an explosive device left behind by an unidentified group and collected by recyclers detonated in an open market and injured 11 civilians in Dessie town in South Wello zone.

In Benshangul/Gumuz region, on 10 July, Fano militiamen allegedly shot and killed two members of Agaw ethnic group in Birtukan and Sisay villages in Dangura woreda, Metekel zone. Additionally, ENDF, regional special forces, and state police clashed with members of the Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement (GPDM) in Dedesa kebele in Mizyiga woreda in Kamashi zone, taking control of the kebele shortly after. The GPDM took control of this kebele and five other kebeles in Mizyiga woreda in May 2021. Around 13 July, government forces, presumably the ENDF, shot and killed a member of the GPDM in Debati woreda in Metekel zone. He had entered the town following the calls to negotiate with the government. Last week, the Benshangul/Gumuz regional police announced that 30 to 40 people accused of breaching the curfew had been arrested in Asosa town. The regional government had declared a night curfew in the town on 8 July. The previous day, in his latest speech to the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had indicated that an unidentified group was plotting to conduct attacks in Asosa (EBC, 7 July 2022).

Lastly, On 9 July, a landmine planted by an unidentified armed group exploded near Kasa Gita in Adar woreda in Awsi-Zone 1 in Afar region, killing four teenagers. Last month, a child was killed and another injured due to the explosion of a mine near Chifra in Awsi-Zone 1. These are likely explosive remnants of the conflict between government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces in 2021.

Weekly Focus: Clashes Return to North Shewa and Oromia Special Zones of Amhara Region

Last week, armed clashes erupted again at the border of North Shewa and Oromia special zones in Amhara region. From 10 to 12 July, government forces and suspected OLF-Shane militants clashed in Berha Silase, Arso Amboa (Zembo), and Wayena kebeles near Ataye town in Eferatana Gidem woreda in North Shewa, and Bete kebele in Jilye Tumuga woreda in Oromia special zone. Regional special forces and federal forces entered the area to control the armed clashes. At least six people and 19 members of security forces were reportedly killed. Additionally, on 14 July, Fano and Amhara ethnic militias reportedy clashed with Oromo ethnic militiamen in Bate Ardaga kebele in Jilye Tumuga woreda. An unidentified number of people were forced to flee the affected areas due to these clashes. To bring stability to the area, Jilye Tumuga woreda authorities reinstated a night curfew and other restrictions on 11 July (Jilye Tumuga Woreda Administration Communication, 11 July 2022).

The cause of the renewed fighting is disputed among residents of the area. Residents in North Shewa zone accuse OLF-Shane gunmen of being involved, and of initiating the clashes. In contrast, residents of Oromia special zone blame government forces who allegedly attempted to take farmers’ cattle using force (VOA Amharic, 13 July 2022). Other reports indicate that the fighting erupted after cattle were released into farmlands. One report stated that the armed clashes were initiated after six armed people wearing government security forces’ uniforms shot and killed a farmer working in the field (Ethiopian Reporter, 13 July 2022).

Clashes in this area are frequent due to territorial and administrative disputes. Due to its status as a special zone, political leaders in Oromia special zone of Amhara region have exercised a great deal of autonomy since its creation in 1995. Under Ethiopian law, despite falling under Amhara region’s boundaries, the zone is administered with special provisions for its ethnic Oromo inhabitants, which often place them in direct contestation with Amhara regional authorities. Ethnic Oromos, many of whom are pastoralists, often come into conflict over water and pasture resources with ethnic Amhara and Afar residents in the area. The alleged involvement of the OLF-Shane also complicates the matter. Previous accusations that the group was operating in the area were denied by both the Oromia regional government and the group’s spokesperson (BBC Amharic, 24 March 2021). This claim was later reversed as TPLF forces advanced southward into Oromia special zone, when a sudden and short-lived “joint operation” was declared (Reuters, 1 November 2021). A substantial link between the Oromo armed groups operating in this area and the commanders of the OLF-Shane are doubtful given previous denials and geographic restrictions of movement. While some militant links could exist, it is more likely that these Oromo groups self-identify with the OLF-Shane and its political goals of Oromo autonomy and control of historic land (see the EPO’s Kemise Conflict page for more information on clashes in this area).