What Really Happened in the “Tole Massacre” in Western Ethiopia? Account Issued by the coalition of Oromo advocacy and human rights groups

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During the week following June 18, international print and broadcast media ran a dramatic story about a “massacre” that was supposedly carried out by a “rebel group” driven by “ethnic hatred” in the Oromia region of Western Ethiopia. The report, which grabbed the headlines and went viral on the Internet on June 19, was that “at least 200” persons who were claimed to be “civilians” of “Amhara ethnic identity” were slaughtered following a battle between “Ethiopian government forces” and the “Oromo Liberation Army” in the Tole/Gimbi area. Accusations escalated. Some outlets reported that the victims were “mostly women and children”; some gave the number as “25”, others said “200”, others as high as “320.” By the end of the week the alleged number had escalated to “1500” or “many thousands.” The essential components of this story were picked up within hours of the first filing, though any search for hard evidence has yet to be carried out.

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