The Whereabouts of Abducted University Students is Known: Police Commissioner

By Staff Reporter

PM-Office-PressJanuary 29, 2020 ( -- The Federal Police Commissioner Endeshaw Tassew said the police have information about the whereabouts of the Dembi Dolo University students who were taken hostages by gunmen 54 days ago in western Ethiopia.

In a joint press conference by the Prime Minister Office, Ethiopian Federal Police, and Ministry of Science and Higher Learning Institutions, Endeshaw blamed an armed group that is operating in the area for abducting the students and other people as well.

“In series of attempts to free the students and other people from the grip of kidnappers, the police inflicted damages on the armed group and took control of strategic positions,” he said.

However, he did not mention the name of kidnappers or armed groups, but referred to them as bandits. According to many reports, the group responsible for the abductions is believed to be the armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front, otherwise called OLF Shene. The central government is generally sensitive to associating such groups to Oromia or the Oromo people, which is in marked contrast to disclosures on matters related to other regions.

He said nothing about why security forces were unable to free the students from the grips of the gunmen if the whereabouts of the captives are known.

According to Endeshaw, unlike information trending in social media, the police do not have the information about the levels of injuries to the captives.

The commissioner said three teams were formed to investigate the kidnapping of the students from Dembi Dolo University and other people.

Prime Minister Press Secretariat Head Nigusu Tilaun said members of the defense forces had freed the first group of hostages, including 21 students and other people from the kidnappers.

The 21 students were returned back to Dembi Dolo University by members of the defense forces in the presence of deputy mayor of the Dembi Dolo town and other witnesses, Nigusu claimed.

He said those students from Dembi Dolo University who are still held captives are another group of victims.

According to Nigusu, out of the 17 captives, 12 of them were confirmed students from Dembi Dolo University while the remaining five hostages were not found on students’ list of the university.

“Based on reports from their families, two students of the university were also taken hostages by the gunmen. Hence a total of 19 (14 students and 5 other people) are still held captives,” he said.

The students had been kidnapped in Anfilo district at a place called Sudi while they were heading to Addis Ababa from the violence-hit Dembi Dolo University.

Huge demonstrations were held two days ago in several Amhara regions in Ethiopia to demand answers, as well as abroad, including in Washington DC. The plight of the abducted university students has also caught the attention of international media following online activities such as the #BringBackOurGirls movement.

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