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The US government has condemned the surge in kidnappings in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, attributing it to the country’s ongoing conflicts.

In a statement, US Ambassador to Ethiopia Ervin Massinga said, “Recent and Frequent kidnappings in Oromia and Amhara regions show how prolonged conflict emboldens criminals and weakens the rule of law. Abductions of civilians and students for financial gains must stop. Last week, over 100 students and passengers were abducted for ransom.”

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What happened:
Last week, over 100 students and passengers traveling from the Amhara region to the capital, Addis Ababa, were abducted near Gohatsion in the Oromia region. According to eyewitnesses, three buses were stopped by gunmen roughly 70 miles from the capital. The attackers, who spoke Oromo and matched the appearance of fighters from the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), forced the passengers off the buses, beating them with sticks before taking them captive.

Students who escaped reported that the kidnappers demanded up to $17,500 for the release of their captives, a significant sum considering top earners in Ethiopia make $36,000 a year. So far, the OLA has not commented on the accusations. Although there have been peace talks between the Ethiopian government and the OLA in the past, they have not resulted in lasting peace. The OLA has also been accused of various atrocities, including killings, property destruction, rape, and abductions.

This development comes as the Ethiopian government has remained relatively silent on the incident, leading to conspiracy theories among some. Activists and politicians have suggested that kidnapping for ransom has become a lucrative enterprise involving both state and non-state actors.


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