- Effort is underway to secure the release of the remaining six students, with mediation from "local elders, religious leaders and security forces."
- The Prime Minister's office did not say whether ransom was paid, nor whom the government believed was responsible.
- A female student, who said she managed to escape the kidnapping, told the AFP that the gunmen identified themselves as members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
At least 21 Ethiopian students have been released from captivity after being abducted early December, the government has said. However, six others are still in captivity. These students are said to be from Amhara region. The Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, told the state television that thirteen female students and eight male students had “been released in a peaceful manner.”
Effort is underway to secure the release of the remaining six students, with mediation from “local elders, religious leaders and security forces,” Nigussu Tilahun, the press secretariat in the office of the Prime Minister, said. It is through their efforts, he says, that they will “secure the release of the students peacefully.” He did not say whether ransom was paid, nor whom the government believed was responsible.
Nigussu said that about 35,000 university students in Oromo region have headed home due to security problems at sixteen universities in the region. Several students have been killed in various universities in the region in what appears to be manufactured clashes. Similar incidents have also been observed in some universities in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.
A female student, who said she managed to escape the kidnapping, told the AFP that the gunmen identified themselves as members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). “I was at the back of the group, and when an opportunity came to hide in a hole in the forest I hid there, staying there for three days,” she said. The student said those who could not speak the Afaan Oromo language were seized and forced to march to the forest.
The OLF is split between a political wing, that has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, and a breakaway military wing active in western and southern Oromia. The OLF claims to champion the interests of the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest. The incident occurred in Ethiopa’s Oromia region where there is an increase in insecurity at colleges. The group from Demb Dollo University was abducted on December 4, when gunmen stopped a bus ferrying them to Addis Ababa from the university, more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) to the west.
According to the National Movement of Amhara, there is an all-out attack on ethnic Amhara students in Oromo region of Ethiopia. Kidnappers are holding seventeen abductees hostage until the “government returns all ethnic Oromo students in Amhara region back to Oromia region.”
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s parliament passed legislation on Thursday aimed at curbing gun ownership, after a surge in regional ethnic violence over the past two years, which has displaced more than 2.7 million people. The government has been criticized for failing to stem rising violence on Ethiopian university campuses that is largely fueled by the disputes between students from different ethnic groups.