Rebels in Ethiopia’s Oromia region have accused federal troops of launching attacks, despite an agreement stemming from Tanzania peace talks to de-escalate the conflict.
Preliminary talks between the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and the government took place earlier this month in Tanzania, with no agreement reached. But OLA spokesperson Odaa Tarbii said the attacks contradicted the understandings that the two parties reached.
“After the conclusion of the preliminary talks in Tanzania, where we had a mutual understanding that de-escalation must be a priority, the Abiy regime unfortunately chose a different path," Tarbii said. "It launched a comprehensive offensive on all territories under our administration. The fighting has been very intense.”
The rebel group said federal groups attacked several points in the Oromia region, specifically West and East Wellega, East and West Shoa, Arsi, Borana, Harerghe and Horo Guduru.
It said troops burned homes, robbed people, confiscated mobile phones and committed acts of sexual violence, among other crimes.
VOA reached out to the Oromia Region spokesperson and a security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for comment but has not received any response.
Fighting between the OLA and federal troops has gone on for four years and displaced thousands from their homes.
Abiy announced that peace talks with the group would begin in April. Since then, each side has reiterated its commitment to a peaceful resolution. However, the OLA said it “will not be pushed to accepting a subpar political settlement through military pressure.”