It would appear that some of those old Irish Republican Army financing techniques have been turning up in the Oromo region of Ethiopia – and with a vengeance, too. There have been 17 bank robberies – of the armed, blagging kind – there in just the last two days. Actually, it’s not over the whole region even, it’s just in a subset of West Oromo, in Qellem Wollega.
No one really knows how much money has been stolen because there’s more than a little worry that those banking staff who actually knew how much cash was on hand have been kidnapped as part of the process. And yes, it is thought that the robberies are by the Oromo Liberation Front. At least the people who’ve been doing it claim to be doing it on behalf of that organisation.
Six other banks are robbed in Wollega, West Oromo region of Ethiopia, yesterday. And that makes the number of banks robbed in the region, within just two days, to seventeen, according to a report by Deutsche Welle (DW) Amharic Service. Tamene Hailu, head of Qellem Wollega Administrative zone, told DW Amharic service that six private and government owned banks were robbed yesterday since 11 a.m. local time in Hawa Gelan, Erob Gebeya, Mechara, Sedi Chinka towns in the region.
He added that armed men took unspecified amount of money and that there are concerns that employees of the bank are abducted. The amount of money is not known because employees with information about it are taken hostage by the armed groups.
As to it being the OLF:
Oromia United Bank and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia branches were the targets of armed robbery which is carried out by groups with political affiliation to the militant OLF faction. In addition to the robbery, the gunmen, and the robbers themselves have claimed to be Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) fighters this week, destroyed two government offices according to Tamene Hailu who is cited by DW Amharic.
As to why try to rob the banks when you’re insistent upon liberating the country? That’s the Willy Sutton answer. You rob banks because that’s where the money is. It’s also a rather effective financing technique as the IRA showed over the decades. Gaining access to substantial cash makes being an army or front, whether republican or liberating, very much easier.