Ethiopia smoke: Local fears ignited conflict

Written by Staff Writer Koske Ekea, Abaya Patricia, Kikol Adade, Malawi Nairobi – An Ethiopian provincial capital has been damaged by fire, and thousands of people are seeking shelter from the escalating violence, residents…

Ethiopia smoke: Local fears ignited conflict

Written by Staff Writer

Koske Ekea, Abaya Patricia, Kikol Adade, Malawi

Nairobi – An Ethiopian provincial capital has been damaged by fire, and thousands of people are seeking shelter from the escalating violence, residents and a UN official said Friday.

The clashes between the Ethiopian government and its allies and rebel opposition have been heating up and spilled into a larger fight over the role of the ruling party in the country.

Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, on Friday said that authorities had denied access to the United Nations in Ethiopian towns and cities.

He also said that thousands of people in each province fled.

“It is very bad,” one resident told CNN.

“The streets are empty. The burning of government vehicles at the end of the street, house after house, debris everywhere. It has been like this for a week. People fled their homes to stay in other houses. They don’t know where to go.”

Similar reports were confirmed by a local journalist, but had not been independently verified.

Koske Ekea was one of the communities targeted in the attack on Abaya residential area, witnesses said.

The state is a rebel stronghold and membership is often used as a cover for a hunt for minority Oromo civilians, they said.

“There is no difference between attacking civilians and fighting rebels,” one Abaya resident said.

“They are using our presence as excuse.”

He said that life was not a normal, jocular place in the area.

“The roads and the homes of our friends and neighbors are being burnt.”

A UN spokesperson told CNN the UN was “working to get an assessment of the situation.”

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