By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
(ADDIS ABABA) – An unidentified group of angered Islamist extremists have burnt dozens of churches and homes at a Christian neighbourhood in Ethiopia’s vast Oromya region. It is believed to be a retaliation to allegations that Christians desecrates a copy of the Koran by tearing them up. Unconfirmed sources said that at least one Christian was killed and thousands of Christians have reportedly fled since the attacks erupted few days ago around Asendabo district in the Jimma area.
Thousands of Islamic extremists are said to have been engaged in the attacks which, according to sources, also has led to the burring down of 59 churches and at least 28 homes of Christians.
Residents of Jimma confirmed to Sudan Tribune the incident occurred however they said that they have no idea to the motive behind the unusual attack. “They have gone wild burning churches, homes of Christians and their properties” said a Christian eye witness on a condition of anonymity.
“We don’t know who these perpetrators are or why they attacked. It seems the police are also facing difficulty in getting the situation under control” the eye witness said adding “we need more protection. People here are in fear.”
Another resident of Jimma town told Sudan Tribune that the town is currently under tight security.
Police officials have refrained from giving detailed comments at this point said “the incident is being under strict investigation”.
The evangelical church leaders first reported the attacks to authorities and asked officials in Ethiopia for help.
Jimma is the largest city in south-western Ethiopia. Located in the Jimma area of the Oromia Region, it was the capital of Kaffa province until the province was dissolved.
It is a leading producer of specialty-grade Ethiopia coffees. The Kaffa region in Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, hence the similarity in name ‘Kaffa’ to ‘Coffee’. Coffee is called bunna (boo-na) in Ethiopia, but as the plant spread out in the area as far as the Arabian peninsula, across the Red Sea people referred to it as Kaffa or Coffee for the region it came from. The reason for its early spread was as an edible product, mostly for the caffeine.
The area was on a trade route to Sudan and other parts of Africa and also on trade and pilgrimage route to Arabian Peninsula which perhaps explains the spread of coffee in that direction.