What you need to know:
- Ararsa Merdasa, Commissioner of Oromia Police Commission, said 24 Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels were killed in a joint federal-regional security forces operation.
- Abiy on Wednesday ordered military operations against the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in response to an attack on a government army base earlier in the day.
A military operation in Ethiopia's central Oromia regional state has left 24 militants dead, an Ethiopian official said on Saturday.
Ararsa Merdasa, Commissioner of Oromia Police Commission, said 24 Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels were killed in a joint federal-regional security forces operation, reported state media outlet Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC).
"The 24 deceased OLA rebels were believed to have participated in a recent massacre in Guliso zone, Western Wollega zone of Oromia regional state," he was quoted as saying. Merdasa further said another 49 OLA rebels were captured during the military operation.
On Sunday, an armed attack in Guliso zone, Western Wollega zone of Oromia regional state, left at least 32 civilians dead.
Federal authorities blamed the Oromo Liberation Army of carrying out the attacks. The OLA is a breakaway faction of an ex-rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The OLF was designated as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian parliament in 2011. It was removed from the terror list in July 2018 to help facilitate negotiations and foster reconciliation.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently stressed that "criminal elements cannot escape rule of law" amid ongoing military operations in the East African country's northernmost region.
Abiy on Wednesday ordered military operations against the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in the northern state of Tigray in response to an attack on a government army base earlier in the day.
"Criminal elements cannot escape the rule of law under the guise of seeking reconciliation and a call for dialogue," the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
Ahmed, who is also commander in chief of the Ethiopian armed forces, stressed that "our operation aims to end the impunity that has prevailed for far too long and hold accountable individuals and groups under the laws of the land."
Noting that Ethiopia's quest to have a successful transition towards constitutional democracy requires adherence to rule of law, Ahmed also stressed that his administration will continue to take necessary law enforcement measures to safeguard and advance the nascent process of democratisation from "rogue political actors."
On Friday, Ahmed had also confirmed airstrikes were carried out in the country's Tigray regional state.
Ahmed said in a televised address to the nation that the air strikes are intended at military targets of the "dangerous clique" and not the civilian population. He also alerted civilians in cities to reduce mass gatherings in order not to cause collateral damages.
In recent weeks, there have been rising tensions between Ahmed's Prosperity Party and the TPLF, with each side accusing the other of trying to destabilize the country.