Dozens of people were shot and set ablaze in a horrendous attack by some armed rebel group in Oromia state of Ethiopia, local authorities said.
The assailants, identified as the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), on Sunday, ransacked three villages in Oromia.
They rounded up residents— mainly women, children and the elderly— who could not flee on time after being lured to a school and maimed them, after carting away their livestock, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, said in a statement posted on Twitter.
The assailants were up to 60, the commission said.
The commission also said at least 32 persons died from the attack, adding that the final number was likely to be higher. But Amnesty International put the death toll at 54.
Ethiopia has been battling a spate of ethnic violence since the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, took power in April 2018.
Limited resources, land disputes, internal borders and tussle for geopolitical power have intensified ethnic tensions in the country.
The recent attack came a day after federal forces had pulled out from the area even though it was susceptible to attacks, the Newly York Times reports.
Mr Ahmed, who condemned the attack in a series of tweet on Monday said the enemies “are vowing either to rule the country or ruin it, and they are doing everything they can to achieve this.
“One of their tactics is to arm civilians and carry out barbaric attacks based on identity, [for me] this is heart breaking,” Mr Ahmed said.
The head of the African Union, Moussa Faki, also condemned the violence and urged Ethiopians to refrain “from inflammatory rhetoric and work towards de-escalating tensions in the country.”
In several bids to fight off civil unrest since he assumed in 2018, the Egyptian Prime Minister has introduced a number of reforms.
They include freeing political prisoners, legalising previously banned opposition groups, and making peace with neighbouring Eritrea.
But analysts say the reforms and the country’s new openness have resulted in a number of fresh problems challenging Mr Ahmed’s government including the Oromo Liberation Army, an armed splinter wing of the political party the Oromo Liberation Front, which he had welcomed back from exile.
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