Addis Ababa — Ethiopia's security forces said Sunday that they have killed the leader of a "terror" cell in the southwestern Gambella region, which borders South Sudan.
Ethiopian-born American, Omot Odol Ojulu, who was on the country's most wanted list, is reported to have been killed in a joint operation carried out by federal and regional security forces in Gambela region's Agnwak zone of Abobo vicinity.
Federal Police sources said Ojulu was killed after he refused to turn himself in and attempted to escape. One member of the security forces was killed in a fire exchange with Ojulu.
It is not clear if Ojulu is affiliated to a particular group, such as to the home grown Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) or Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebel groups, which are designated as terrorist entities by the Ethiopian government.
Reached by phone Gambela regional president, Omod Obang, on Sunday confirmed to Sudan Tribune that Ojulu had been killed, however the official declined to give further details on the matter.
Ojulu's assault on a public bus in March last year killed 19 passengers.
He is also thought to be the mastermind of last year's attack on Gambela based Saudi Star rice farm, an agriculture company owned by Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi, which killed six people, including a Pakistani worker and injured eight others.
Following the attacks security forces then arrested at least 14 perpetrators, however Ojulu then managed to escape and had been under police hunt until his death this week.
Police said the deceased has recently been organising and recruiting members from the region to carry out more attacks.
The terror suspect had been charged under the country's anti-terrorism law in absentia.
Ethiopia's Gambella region, which is one of the most fertile and resource-rich part of the country has a history of tribal conflicts.
International human rights group organisations accuse the Ethiopian government of forcing tens of thousands of Gambella villagers from their land to lease it to foreign and state-owned firms.
The Ethiopian government has repeatedly dismissed those allegations.
In May last year, government spokesperson, Shimels Kemal, told Sudan Tribune that the accusations were "baseless" and politically motivated smear campaigns against nation.