Ethiopia – Government confirms abduction of 12 university student

The government Ethiopia today confirmed that 19 people are reported missing or abducted in Kelem Wellega area, including 12 girls who are students of Dembidolo University.

From 17 university students whose name was listed as abducted by one of the segments the rebel group known as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) the federal police has confirmed that 12 are indeed students of Dembidolo University some 600 kilometers West of Addis Ababa. This is indicated by Federal Police Commissioner Endeshaw Tasew who briefed reporters this afternoon at the Prime Minister’s Office.

He indicated that the police was also informed the missing of five other people from the local community, including a father with his child. In addition two other individuals are also reported missing bring the total number of people confirmed missing in Kelem Wellega area. The area is known as the base of OLF, which was listed as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government before its leaders and the group was pardoned by the reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Giving further details on the case as it can endanger the lives of the missing individuals if they are abducted, according to Commissioner Endeshaw. He indicated that as the issue is complicated and serious the government has got good leads about the missing people and will come back with details to the public when the job is completed.

Earlier this month one of the students of Dembidolo University has told local media that she managed to escape the abduction while 17 of her friends are taken by unidentified people from a bus on their way from Wellega to Gambella town around Anfillo area. The later the names of the students is spread over social media followed by parents demanding the government for explanation.

Then the government said about a week ago that 21 abducted students are set free by the military and returned back to Dembidolo University, which is takes as lie by many as the parents have not yet seen their girls after the statement.

This has led to demonstrations in different parts of Amhara Region of Ethiopia a few days ago calling for the release of the abducted girls. This is mainly because it was reported that the abducted are all university students from Amhara ethnic group, which is refuted by the Press Secretary of Prime Minister Office Mr. Nigussu Tilahun.

Explaining the situation he noted that the government made that statement after making sure that the students are returned to the University. Meanwhile after few days some 800 students at Dembidolo University have left the university abandoning their studies fearing for their safety. The 12 students of Dembidolo University now government confirmed to be abducted are among those 800, who left the University to return to their parents.

He noted that one ethnic group is not targeted. Such report was deliberately disseminated by anti-reform people who aspire to create similar abduction scenarios in other universities in Ethiopia on other ethnic group.

Reports show that currently the government including the military is working to clear Kelem Wellega area from the OLF segment labelled by Commissioner Endeshaw as Shifta. It is also stated that the Government has blocked the Internet in the area for security reason.