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  • A rebel OLF unit retreating into Kenya after weeks of fighting with government troops in central Kenya, 2006.

    A rebel OLF unit retreating into Kenya after weeks of fighting with government troops in central Kenya, 2006. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Published 11 April 2019

Residents claim to have provided information regarding unauthorized military training outside the town over a month ago.

The Ethiopian federal government and the Amhara regional state have been criticized by residents of Ataye town, which experienced a brutal attack Saturday, for failing to respond to warnings and tips about observed military training which implied the possibility of an attack.

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At least two dozen deaths have been reported, and an unspecified number of individuals were taken as captives, the whereabouts of whom remain unknown; the assailant group reportedly released the women who were sequestered. While the federal government has yet to disclose the attacker, lower-level authorities and residents believe the attack was carried out by the militant wings of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

The OLF issued a statement stressing that the militant groups are separate from the political leadership of the ethno-nationalist party, and has distanced itself from any acts of terrorism that may have been committed by these groups. 

Residents claim to have provided information to the Amhara regional state regarding unauthorized military training taking place in the town's surrounding areas over a month ago. The residents also informed the same authority about security issues a week prior to the attack, which hinted that a potential attack was imminent. 

Locals expressed that damage to human life and property could have been substantially reduced if the government responded to the residents' warnings in a timely manner. According to defense forces, they were unable to provide defence because personnel had not received "an order from authorities." 

The government's preparation diverges from that of the attackers, who carried out the operation in what seemed to be a well-coordinated plan, according to witnesses. 

Several towns along Ethiopia's Addis Ababa-Dessie road have been targeted by armed groups, which have reduced the area to a conflict zone. While there has been no response to these specific denouncements, officials acknowledged Friday the added risk to national security attributed to the country's ethnic politics.  


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