Air strike kills civilians in west Ethiopia

Many civilians have been killed in an air strike in the Ethiopian western town of Mandi, about 500km (310 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa, sources have told the BBC.

Residents said the strike happened around lunchtime on Wednesday in the town where Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) militias have been in control for days after a fight with government security forces.

A resident anonymously told the BBC that the government was targeting the militias but majority of those who were killed and wounded were civilians.

He said an OLA vehicle parked by the roadside with some of its members inside was hit by a drone causing bombs that the fighters had to explode, killing civilians around the area.

His friend and a gospel preacher, Tariku Wanna, a father of one daughter, was among those who died. He said they had lunch together at the area before he left him to go somewhere.

“After five minutes the drone bombed them. When I returned to that place I found his body lying down on the ground. I saw many scattered bodies but didn’t count, but the majority of them were civilians,” he said.

The BBC tried to reach Tariku’s wife but she was in a state of complete shock and disbelief.

Another resident of the town, who spoke to the BBC anonymously for the sake of his own safety, put the number of civilians killed in the air strike to at least 20.

He said around seven to eight people died instantly while another 13 were admitted to hospital and died there from their injuries.

The OLA’s spokesperson, Oda Tarbi, put the number of civilians killed at 30, but didn’t mention the number of their soldiers who were killed.

The BBC couldn’t verify the number of casualties from the hospital sources.

Politicians have condemned the attack, with the Oromo Liberation Party calling it “barbaric”and asking the government not to target civilians.

The Ethiopian government has not commented on the matter. The BBC reached out to the Oromia region’s security official but he declined to comment. -BBC

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