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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Newborn baby found alive next to dead mother after mass killing

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A newborn baby was found alive next to her dead mother during a wave of recent mass killings in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, a family relation has told the BBC.

The relative says Ansha Seid, a 25-year-old mother of three, was killed just two weeks after giving birth to her daughter.

“She was lying next to her 15-day-old daughter. She was shot in the back, but I had no idea the baby was still alive. We found her breathing, which was surprising. It was a miracle,” the unnamed relative said, describing the moment.

Ms Ansha’s two other children also survived after hiding in a corn field, but are still traumatised. Her younger sister however did not make it, while her elder sister was injured and was admitted to hospital.

The killing spree was carried out on 18 June in five villages of the Gimbi district in western Ethiopia. Those targeted were minority ethnic Amharas living in the region.

Many people lost entire families or dozens of their kin, witnesses and survivors have told the BBC. Their pain and grief is still fresh two weeks after it happened.

Most of those killed were women and children – including newborn babies.

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Mohammed Yesuf, a 64-year-old survivor, lost more than a dozen children and grandchildren including a newborn, while others were injured.

“I buried 33 family members and relatives, including 22 of my children and grandchildren,” he said.

“I wish I had died,” he said, sobbing.

The rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) has been accused of carrying out the deadly attack – but the group has denied the recent allegation, claiming that it was committed by a government-backed militia group.

According to Ms Ansha’s relatives, the men were in the field when the rebels invaded the villages and opened fire that Saturday morning.

“The insurgents killed people door to door. They were dragged from their home in one area and shot together in the bush”

Ms Ansha was among those killed in the bush, along with other women and children.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said a total of 338 people were killed and investigations were ongoing. Mr Abiy described the violence as “unacceptable”.

Some estimates indicate the deaths could be higher.

The Amhara Association in America estimates the death toll could be more than 600 and has identified 455 victims by name.

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