At least one hundred highlander civilians have been killed in attacks carried out by armed Anuak in late 2003 and 2004. Some of these attacks have been particularly brutal. In spite of the efforts of federal and military authorities to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice, almost none of them have been arrested or prosecuted.
A series of ambushes along major roads have contributed to a widely shared sense of insecurity within Gambellas highlander community.156 Individuals who record these abuses reported to Human Rights Watch that at least forty-four people have been killed in ten such ambushes since November 2003.157 In most of these cases, gunmen hiding in the grass beside major roads have opened fire on civilian vehicles, killing many or all of their occupants.
On November 17, 2003, five private contractors working on a road rehabilitation project outside of Abobo (forty kilometers south of Gambella town) were ambushed and killed. All five were highlanders and in both Gambella and Addis Ababa the attack was widely blamed on Anuak shifta; no one was ever arrested or tried for the murders.158 This attack in particular aroused a great deal of fear and anger within the highlander population. The massacre in Gambella town one month later was sparked by anger over a similar and exceptionally brutal attack.159
In addition to these ambushes, groups of armed Anuak carried out two major attacks against highlander civilian populations in 2004. The first attack, which was apparently carried out in reprisal for the December 2003 massacre, took place outside of Dimma town at the end of January. The countryside around Dimma contains deposits of gold that have attracted thousands of highlander artisanal miners, mainly from the neighboring Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region. On or around January 30, a large group of armed Anuak descended on the area where most of the miners are concentrated and massacred between 50 and 172 of them.160 This attack claimed more civilian lives than any other single incident since the December 2003 massacre in Gambella town. Human Rights Watch was not able to investigate this incident in detail because of the impossibility of traveling to Dimma from Gambella town.161 Anuak witnesses who were in Dimma town at the time of the attack, however, reported seeing dozens of wounded highlanders who were brought to the town for medical treatment later that day. Many appeared to suffer from machete and bullet wounds.162
In March 2004, armed Anuak attacked a highlander village near Abobo known as Village 13.163 At least twenty civilians were killed in that attack. Much of the village was burned to the ground and many homes were looted. After this attack, fear of further violence drove large numbers of highlanders from Village 13 and other nearby settlements to abandon their homes and move to Abobo or Gambella town.164
It remains unclear to what extent any organized group or groups are responsible for these abuses. Several sources, including many Anuak villagers and some government officials and members of civil society, said they believe many of these attacks to be revenge killings. Since ENDF forces in Gambella are considered highlanders by most Anuak, many Anuak see highlander civilians as legitimate targets in reprisals for ENDF murders of Anuak civilians.165 Whoever is responsible for the attacks, inaction on the part of the Anuak-led regional administration prior to December 2003 contributed to a widespread perception that the regional authorities were not committed to stopping or even seriously investigating them. That perception in turn fueled the growing ethnic tensions that exploded with such violence on December 13, 2003.
The leadership of the Sudan-based Gambella Peoples Liberation Front (GPLF) denies that its fighters have been responsible for any attacks on highlander civilians, insisting that the organization attacks only military targets and that in any event it has not carried out any attacks since March or April 2004.166 Several sources indicated to Human Rights Watch that most of the ambushes along Gambellas roads were carried out by a group of two to three dozen Anuak fighters, many of whom are former regional police officers.167 The leader of that group was reportedly killed in a raid by military forces in early 2004,168 and the number and frequency of reported ambushes has in fact decreased significantly since then.169 This fact has done nothing to ease the steep price Gambellas entire Anuak community is being made to pay for these attacks, however.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with federal government and civil society officials, Addis Ababa and Gambella, late 2004; confidential research materials on file with Human Rights Watch.
 List of Attacks on Highlander Civilians in 2003 and 2004 prepared by highlander sources in Gambella town, obtained by Human Rights Watch in Gambella. There were other ambushes prior to November 2003, but Human Rights Watch did not gather information about those attacks.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with federal official and civil society sources, Gambella, late 2004.
 See supra The December 2003 Massacre.
 Highlander sources in Gambella told HRW that between fifty and sixty highlanders had been killed in the attack. List of Attacks on Highlander Civilians in 2003 and 2004 prepared by highlander sources in Gambella town, obtained by Human Rights Watch in Gambella. The federal government put the number of dead at 196, of whom 172 were said to be artisanal miners. Ethiopian Ministry of Federal Affairs, The Current Situation in Gambella, [online] http://www.mfa.gov.et/Press_Section/publication.php?Page_Number=415 (retrieved January 25, 2005). The remainder may represent military deaths, as the perpetrators of this massacre reportedly attacked a military encampment before proceeding to the mining area. Some reports indicated that they inflicted heavy casualties on the garrison there. Human Rights Watch interviews, Addis Ababa and Ruiru, Kenya, late 2004.
 At the time of Human Rights Watchs research mission, the road between Gambella town and Dimma was closed to vehicles traveling without a military escort.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with witnesses #13 and 19, Ruiru, Kenya, late 2004.
 Abobo and most of the villages in the surrounding area came into existence as part of the Dergs resettlement program in the 1980s. Thousands of settlers from other regions of Ethiopia were made to settle near large state farms that were established in the area. The resettled highlanders were dropped off in newly created villages that were identified only by numbers. Most people in Gambella continue to use those numbers to identify the villages.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with NGO and federal official and with witness #31, Addis Ababa and Gambella, late 2004; List of Attacks on Highlander Civilians in 2003 and 2004 prepared by highlander sources in Gambella town, obtained by Human Rights Watch in Gambella.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with federal official and Anuak sources, Gambella and Addis Ababa, late 2004.
 However, the GPLF considers ZPEBs oil exploration operations to be a legitimate target. Human Rights Watch interview with GPLF leadership, Nairobi, late 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with federal official and Anuak sources, Addis Ababa, late 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with federal official and Anuak refugee community leaders, Addis Ababa and Ruiru, Kenya, late 2004.
 Highlander sources in Gambella town told Human Rights Watch that there have been two reported ambushes since February 2004in June and November 2004. Four people were reportedly killed in each attack. List of Attacks on Highlander Civilians in 2003 and 2004 prepared by highlander sources in Gambella town, obtained by Human Rights Watch in Gambella. Some sources indicated that there may have been other ambushes during this period that Human Rights Watchs highlander sources in Gambella town were not aware of.