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US calls for end to kidnappings for ransom in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions

US Ambassador to Ethiopia Ervin Massinga (Photo: US State Department)

Addis Abeba – The US Embassy in Addis Abeba has condemned the recent surge in kidnappings for ransom reported in the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia. “Abductions of civilians and students for financial gain must stop,” the embassy said in a statement today.

“Recent and frequent kidnappings in Oromia and Amhara regions show how prolonged conflict emboldens criminals and weakens the rule of law,” said U.S. Ambassador Ervin Massinga.

The statement follows a reported incident on Wednesday, 03 July, 2024, where over 100 students were allegedly abducted while traveling from the Amhara region to Addis Abeba. According to eyewitness accounts provided to the BBC, the students, mainly from Debark University, were intercepted near the town of Gerbe Guracha in the North Shewa zone of Oromia.

Some students reportedly escaped, while others remain in captivity. Relatives of the detained students have received ransom demands. One family informed the BBC they were asked for 700,000 birr with a three-day deadline.

Ambassador Massinga noted in his statement, “Last week, over 100 students and passengers were abducted for ransom,” referencing the recent incident.

Parents of the abducted students have referred to the BBC the kidnappers as “Shane,” a term used by government officials in reference to the armed group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), in its 3rd Annual Human Rights Situation Report released on Friday, highlighted an increase in kidnappings for ransom affecting both the Oromia and Amhara regions. AS

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