Killing of civilians by defence forces fuels anger in Amhara region and beyond
7 were reportedly killed and 15 injured
Deputy Chief of Staff of the ENDF denied the involvement of the defence forces
Towns on West Gondar Zone on border with Sudan are on edge after Ethiopian defence forces (ENDF) shot and killed 7 people and injured 15 others Tuesday, according to multiple sources. The deaths occurred in the towns of Gende Wuha and Kokit, about 20 kms ad 40kms of Metema respectively. Western Gondar zone deputy administrator Adebabay Mulugeta confirmed about the incident and deaths, without giving an exact figure of dead or injured. Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of the Gende Wuha this morning to express their anger, some asking the defence forces to leave the area, according to Deutsche Welle Amharic radio.
Adebabay described how the attack began. “A road construction company by the name Sur was moving vehicles and other properties to Armachoho woreda. Residents who were convinced that the Company is responsible for the instability in the region demanded the vehicles should be inspected before leaving the area,” he said. A meeting was held between defence forces, zone administrators and representative of the community to resolve the stand-off and a sudden decision to let vehicles pass before the conclusion of the meeting provoked anger, causing fire exchanges between the army and some residents, he said. Witnesses who talked to DW gave a different account, saying the armed security forces began shooting residents in the streets, killing and injuring innocent people, including a seven-year-old girl. One of the victims was returning from a day’s agricultural work, one witness was quoted as saying.
Ethiopia’s Deputy Chief of Staff of the National Defense Force, General Birhanu Jula denied the involvement of the defence forces in the killing, rather pointing gingers at the armed groups in the area for opening fire on defence force members who were escorting the heavy vehicles. “The Defences forces first fired into the air, when the attack persisted, they acted in self-defence. The civilians might have been killed by bullets coming from the armed groups.” He said the incident would be investigated, in an interview with VOA Amharic.
The wounded people were taken to Metema Referral hospital. At least three people remain in a critical condition.
Head of the Amhara Regional State Communication Affairs Office, Asemahagn Aseres Bantie expressed condolences to the families and said this should have been resolved peacefully. He said the incident was being investigated and those responsible would be held accountable.
Yared Hailemariam, the executive director of the Swiss-based Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, criticized the government’s security response, asking how come the forces in Amhara region acted so fast brutally while showing unusual patience in Oromia region when OLF, armed to the teeth, has been terrorising, killing, raping and stealing civilians. Those who carried out the killings and those who ordered should be brought to justice, he wrote on his Facebook page.
Sur Construction, part of the conglomerate that belongs to the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) has been accused of transporting arms and fuelling ethnic conflict between Kimant and Amhara people.