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Witnesses say latest ethnic clashes in Ethiopia have left dozens dead


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NAIROBI, Kenya – Witnesses say several dozen civilians and fighters have been killed in the latest clashes between the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups in central Ethiopia.

Fighting broke out in the town of Jewuha in the Amhara region on Saturday. A witness, like others speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, told The Associated Press that fighters suspected of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Army rebels attacked a camp used by the Amhara special forces and killed more than 20. The witness said they also helped bury three civilians.

The fighting spread to other towns, the witness said. Another witness in Jewuha involved in burials said “several dozen” bodies had been recovered.

A witness from the town of Ataye in the Amhara region said clashes between the OLA and Amhara special forces were continuing and thousands of civilians were fleeing. A doctor at Shewa Robit Hospital told the AP he had received the bodies of “several people” since Monday as well as seriously injured victims.

The Amhara regional government confirmed the clashes on Wednesday and said members of the federal army, federal police and Amhara regional forces were working to bring the situation under control.

A federal police spokesman did not respond to calls. An Ethiopian government spokesman, Legesse Tulu, hung up.

Some Amharas and Oromos, two of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, are in bitter rivalry over new and old grievances. Amharas were targeted in several places in the neighboring region of Oromia, prompting Amhara militias to deploy.

The Oromos also claimed to have been the target of deadly attacks by Amharas. The Oromo Legacy Leadership and Advocacy Association said in a statement this week that “under international law, the Ethiopian federal government has a duty to protect its citizens.”

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