Gunmen killed more than 100 people in an attack in western Ethiopia on Wednesday (December 23), the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said. This independent body, attached to the government, explains in a press release that “more than 100 people were killed by gunfire perpetrated by armed men” in the region of Benishangul-Gumuz. The Commission said it had received “worrying photographic evidence” from survivors of this pre-dawn attack on “sleeping residents” in the Metekel area, which continued until Wednesday. afternoon.
At least 36 other people were treated for injuries, including gunshot wounds, at a hospital in Bulen, about 90 km from the scene of the attack, the Commission said. “Besides the damage inflicted on people’s lives and their bodies, crops were set on fire. A victim told us that he saw 18 fires, ”the organization said. There were “no police or security forces” stationed in the area at the time. Armed forces were sent to the area on Tuesday to calm tensions but they left soon after. Some of the victims of the attack said they knew the attackers, the Commission added, adding that humanitarian aid would be sent to the region to help the displaced and injured.
The region is home to residents of the Shinasha, Oromo and Amhara ethnicities, according to the Commission. The Amhara ethnic group is the second largest in the country. This attack is the latest in a bloody series in recent months. In October, 12 civilians were killed in the same area. And the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission had already reported the death, on September 25, of 15 civilians in the same area of Metekel, qualifying the violence as “targeted assassinations”.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in October attributed the recent violence in the west to fighters trained in Sudan, and called on Khartoum to stabilize the Sudanese border region of Blue Nile, where he said these fighters are trained and armed. So far, authorities in Addis Ababa have said little about the drivers of violence in Benishangul-Gumuz state, which opposition leaders have attributed to ethnic factors.
Violence across the country
Opposition politicians, especially from the Amahra community, have been sounding the alarm for weeks on what they call a targeted campaign by ethnic Gumuz militias against the Amhara and Agew living in the Metekel area. . According to them, more than 150 civilians perished in the attacks, figures which could not be confirmed independently. This violence shows that the openness advocated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has freed local territorial ambitions and old inter-community disputes, which have led to deadly violence in many parts of the country.
The Prime Minister, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2019, also launched a military offensive in the dissident region of Tigray in early November. No precise record of the conflict in Tigray is available, but the fighting has pushed more than 50,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring Sudan and has displaced more than 63,000 inside the region, according to the UN.