The families of students of Dembi Dolo University, kidnapped by an armed group in western Ethiopia, said that they hadn’t heard anything about their children. But the government said last week that 21 students were released. The students have been in the hands of the armed group since November 2019.
A social media notice revealed the seizure of 17 students after they spent a month in a jungle near western Ethiopia. According to reports, the students captured by militants of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) during run away to their homes, avoiding a clash in their university.
The students have made a phone call to their families multiple times in the past month, VOA reports. And they have told them that the kidnappers are armed and they have an issue is with the government. One of the students managed to escape during the capture, and she has given the location and identities of the captives. She told VOA that 13 male and four female students were kidnapped.
The press secretary of the office of the prime minister, Nigusu Tilahun on Saturday, announced on state television confirmed the kidnap, and 21 of them have been released, and only six of them are still captured.
Whereas their families are saying, they have no idea about the release of their children. “We heard that some of them are released, and we are waiting patiently, ” said one of them. He added that the families communicate with one another for updates, and “nobody has been released yet. We hope the government has told the truth, so we are waiting.”
OLF is one of the oldest political organizations in Ethiopia. It was established in 1973 by Oromo ethnic nationalists to oppose the ‘oppression of the Amhara royal group.’ The OLF spread its activities to western Oromia and elected a new 41-member central committee along with a five-member Supreme Politico-Military Command, which comprised Lencho Letta, Muhee Abdo, Baro Tumsa, Magarsaa Barii, and Gadaa Gamada.
At the collapse of the Derg regime, OLF was one of the groups fighting to rule Ethiopia against the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). 1990, the TPLF formed other ethnic-based political groups and created a coalition called the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.
During the past three decades of EPRDF rule, OLF had been in an armed struggle operating abroad in Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan.
The OLF has returned from exile in Eritrea following the arrival of PM Abiy. After the return, one of the wings of OLF, called “shine” continued armed struggle in the western Oromia. According to some reports, it has been in a fight against the Ethiopian Defense Force for the past couple of months.