Two mass graves and 48 bodies of Somalis killed in Gadulo, Oromia region, has been recovered, according to an account of Ethio-Somali region president.

Last Friday, several dozens of ethnic Somalis were killed in Gadulo, Daru Leba woreda, west Hararghe zone, Oromia, as reported previously on HornAffairs.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn appeared on the national tv on Sunday evening to denounce “the mass murder of Somalis at Gadulo kebele, Daru Luba woreda”, adding that a task force has been assigned to conduct inquiry. He didn’t provide further details. Oromia region president issued a general statement denouncing the incident on Monday.

In an interview with Zami radio on Tuesday, Abdi Mohammud, president of Somali region, disclosed chilling details of the incident.

According to Abdi Mohammed, the military was about 80 kilometers distance from Gadulo when reports of the killings surfaced on Friday morning.

A contingent of the army was dispatched to the area about 2 pm in the afternoon, but it took several hours to reach Gadulo due to road blockades and armed resistances along the way, president Abdi narrated.

When the army unit finally reached the area, it was informed by a survivor of the killing that a mass killing might have been committed on a group of 62 Somalis who had been camped in one location.

The military found two mass graves later that night and reported to the federal government.

On Saturday morning, the federal government sent a task force consisting the Defence Minister, Siraj Fegesa, the Attorney-General, Getachew Ambaye, the Minister of Federal Affairs, Kebede Chane, the Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Addisu Gebre-egziabher (PhD), the Commissioner General of the Federal Police, Abiyu Assefa, and the deputy head of the Secretariat of Oromia’s ruling party OPDO/EPRDF, Birhanu Tsegaye.

Upon the recommendation of the task force, two technical teams were dispatched on Sunday morning to conduct full excavation of the mass graves, according to President Abdi’s narration.

48 bodies had been recovered on Sunday and the excavation have continued, President Abdi said in his interview with the radio.

Since 4 Somalis have been found injured in the area, 12 Somalis remained unaccounted for by Monday morning.

Abdi claimed that his administration has received information about the killing of 46 Somalis in three locations – 24 in Tomsa kebele, 4 in Hulqo kebele and 18 in Qorati kebele. It was not clear whether he was talking about additional victims or detailing those found in the mass graves.

The army rescued a total of 453 people who were “marked for killing” or in hiding inside Mosques. Local Oromos had also hid several Somalis in their homes out of humanity, Abdi said with gratitude.

The ethnic Somali victims lived in the area for decades and some of whom do not even speak Somali language, according to Abdi.

Last September, following the massacre of Somalis at Awoday city of Oromia, Somali region quickly issued a statement denouncing the incident, declared a seven-day region-wide mourning and prepared an official graveyard in Jigjiga city, the regional capital. It was also followed by the eviction of about 64 thousand Oromos from Somali region in the subsequent four days under the pretext of saving them from retaliatory violence.

Abdi took a different course this time. His administration refrained from official comment until the Prime Minister issued a statement on the matter.

In his appearance on Zami radio on Tuesday, Abdi expressed gratitude that the Prime Minister and the President of Oromia denounced the incident. “We have decided to sit back because this is not just our issue but of the federal government and the Ethiopian people”.

He claimed the incident will not disrupt the process of returning and rehabilitating the Oromos evicted from Somali region last September.

The federal government and the Oromia region administration have not commented on the details of the Gadulo massacre provided by the president of Ethio-Somali region at the time of the writing of this news.

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Daniel Berhane

Daniel Berhane