Addis Ababa — SOME seven priests are among 15 people killed in eastern Ethiopia following a reign of terror by youth militia loyal to a former regional president.
Youths devoted to the ex-president of the Somali region, Abdi Illey, have been on a rampage lately, burning churches and killing critics particularly in Jijiga, capital of the agitated state.
Apart from the spree of killings, the Ethiopian Orthodox church said eight of its churches were burned.
Hundreds of people reportedly took shelter in a church compound after their homes were destroyed.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said its office in the area was also attacked, with offices burned and staff beaten.
Officials said they believe the attackers were trying to stop the commission's recent investigation into human rights abuses in the region.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the political and ethnic dynamics around the recent killings showed that despite reforms and improved rhetoric on human rights from the federal government, insecurity was still a problem.
"Bringing perpetrators swiftly to justice is the only way to not only stem the violence but also signal to Ethiopians that the country is changing for good," an HRW spokesperson said.
Recent incidents of ethnically and religiously-charged killings in the Somali and Oromia regions point to ongoing tensions despite new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, stabilising the East African country with some reforms since assuming office in April.