More than 150 fighters of Ethiopia’s Omoro Liberation Front (OLF) rebel group, who entered into a peace deal with the government, are being treated in hospital for suspected poisoning, a doctor has told BBC Afaan Oromoo’s Zelalem Tadesse.
Some of the soldiers said they started collapsing after having breakfast at the Tollay camp in south-western Ethiopia on Sunday.
The soldiers suspect that a white poisonous substance was thrown into their tea.
‘’In the tea cup we used, we saw something white,” a soldier told BBC Afaan Oromoo.
Officials at the camp, set up to politically rehabilitate the OLF fighters after they laid down their weapons, have not yet commented.
A doctor at the hospital in the nearby town of Waliso, Abillatif Yisiak, confirmed that more than 129 soldiers were admitted on Sunday for suspected poisoning and a further 20 today.
The OLF members complained of nausea and vomited blood. They also suffered from severe headaches and diarrhœa, Dr Abillatif added.
Blood and urine samples had been taken to establish the exact cause of their illness, he said.
More than 800 OLF fighters heeded a call earlier this year by Abba Gadas – a respected body of traditional leaders and elders – to resolve differences with the government peacefully.
The fighters are learning about the constitution and the rule of law with the aim of being integrated into the Oromia region’s security force.
The OLF fighters have previous complained of a lack of food and proper sanitation at the camp.