The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) unequivocally condemns the massacre of civilians in Oromia Region’s Wollega Zone.

The attacks were committed on November 1, 2020, by a group of armed and unarmed assailants that numbered up to 60 in the zone’s Gawa-Kanka, Gilla-Gogola, and Seka-Jerbi kebeles, and followed the withdrawal of federal soldiers from the areas around noon the same day, according to sources who spoke with EHRC.

The assailants targeted ethnic Amharas residing in the three kebeles. They were dragged from their homes and taken to a school, where they were killed. Official figures state a death toll of 32 civilians, but preliminary evidence obtained by EHRC indicate the number is very likely to exceed that tally.

“These gruesome killings of civilians are unconscionable and flout basic principles of humanity,” said Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of EHRC. “No amount of grievance can justify such brutality, and perpetrators should be held to account.”

Federal authorities blamed the Oromo Liberation Army of carrying out the attacks, and that women and children were among the victims.

EHRC urges federal and regional authorities to promptly launch an independent investigation into the killings and shed light on the reasons behind the military’s withdrawal from an area long known to be vulnerable to attacks, and take appropriate measures to ensure the security of civilians. It also calls on authorities to ensure that victims and their families obtain full redress.

Sunday’s incident is the latest in a tragic spate of massacres in Ethiopia over a period of four weeks. At least a dozen civilians were killed in Gura Ferda Woreda in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region in October, while several people lost their lives in Afar Region that same month.