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News: Oromia regional gov’t admits killing of four Orthodox priests in Zequala Monastery, blames ‘OLF Shene’

The Zequala Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus Monastery is situated in the East Shewa Zone of the Oromia region (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – Oromia Regional State Peace and Security Bureau has confirmed the killing this week of four priests of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) who were serving the historic Zequala Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus Monastery. in the East Shewa Zone of the Oromia region.

EOTC announced that the four priests were killed earlier this week during an attack on the Monastery located in the East Shewa Zone of the Oromia region, 30 km southwest of Bishoftu city.

In a statement on Thursday, 22 February, the church blamed “armed militants” who raided the monastery on Tuesday, 20 February, and kidnapped the priests.

According to the statement, the East Shewa Diocese later informed the Church that four priests—Abatekelmariam Asrat, Abba Kidane Mariam Tilahun, Abba Gebremaryam Abebe, and Hailemariam Woldesenbet—were killed after being kidnapped. 

The church said Kidanemariam Gebresenbat survived but was injured in the attack.

In a statement released last the Oromia region Peace and Security Bureau, confirmed the killing, and blamed the suspected perpetrators as members of the “OLF Shene.”

“Following the killing of the church fathers by Shene militants, action is being taken based on a suggestions to the police,” Bureau said.

The ancient monastery is home to many relics and heritage items, and has endured serious damage from repeated looting and burning over time, according to the Church, which has urged federal and regional security agencies to take swift action to protect the monks and monastery to prevent further attacks and damage to the heritage site.

However, the statement from the Church refrained from specifying the suspected perpetrators, although a report by Church affiliated TV implicated the assault OLA armed group.

Oromia’s peace and security bureau said it was “tracking the perpetrators together with the regional police.” Despite the blame however, the bureau has requested locals to cooperate with the security forces in apprehending the suspected perpetrators while pledging to keep the public informed of the results of “the law enforcement measures” against the armed group.

As of the publishing of this news, OLA has not issued statement on the killing and the subsequent accusations by Oromia security against it. AS

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