News Analysis: Amhara State deploys its forces to neighboring Benishangul Gumuz state; move follows recent killings of security forces by armed rebels

Amhara Special Forces arriving in Bulen Woreda in Benishangul Gumuz Region. Photo: Bulen Woreda Communication Bureau

By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne 

Addis Abeba, September 13/2021 – Amhara special forces were deployed to Bulen woreda of the Metekel zone in Benishangul Gumuz regional state, Bulan woreda communication bureau announced on September 12.

The communication bureau said that the Special forces from the neighboring Amhara state “were welcomed” by residents of Bulen town, in Metekel zone, 1 km in the outskirt of the town. The statement added that the local community are expecting the Amhara special forces to work in a spirit of patriotism to return sustainable peace to the area and exterminate “messengers of the Junta” and “remnants of the T.P.L.F walking around carrying its ideology and school of thoughts.”

On September 09, the Benishangul Gumuz state security bureau accused Gumuz armed rebels of killing five security forces and one Chinese national in the latest attack in Metekel zone.

Earlier in August, an armed group accused by the regional government of belonging to the Gumuz community killed five members of local militia in Bulen woreda, which has been the scene of recurring violence that caused the death and displacement of hundreds of civilians.

The news of the deployment of Amhara Special Forces comes in the backdrop of on and off tensions between authorities of the two regional states particularity over the ownership status of Metekel zone itself

The regional government and the Metekel Zone Integrated Command Post recently announced the finalization of preparations to take final and decisive measurements against ‘TPLF agents’ operating in Metekel and Kamashi zones. The warning came after regional government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)  in May of this year with an unnamed “armed group” with incentives to integrate members of the armed group into local administration in a bid to bring a lasting solution to the security crisis in the region. The regional government went on to appoint 25 former members of the unidentified armed group to two regional, three zonal and 16 woreda level leadership positions in July.

The news of the deployment of Amhara Special Forces comes in the backdrop of on and off tensions between authorities of the two regional states particularity over the ownership status of Metekel zone itself, which Amhara officials at times lay claims on.

Tensions between the two regional states were running high particularly after the killing in April 2019 of at least 18 members of the Amhara community in various localities of Metekel zone. In what was described at the time as a retaliation offensive by armed militia from Amhara region, “several dozen” members of Gumuz and Sinasha communities were killed in just two days in three Kebeles (localities) in Jawi Wereda, bordering Banishagul Gumuz regional state, in the first week of May 2019.

Due to this claim on the ownership status of the Metekel zone itself, officials of the two regional sated often trade blames against each other but both were unable to contain the violence, especially in the Metekel Zone which continued to claim the lives of civilians.

The tensions between the officials of the two regional states went up last year in December after the late Abere Adamu, former Commissioner of the Amhara Regional State Police Commission, announced that the region’s police was requesting the federal government to “either be given the responsibility or for the federal government to intervene” in Benishangul Gumuz state in order to stabilize growing security crisis in Metekel zone of the region and secure the safety and security of civilians.

Gembir Betish, a resident of Bulan Woreda told Addis Standard that two days after the deployment of Amhara Special Forces, the community is yet to tell the outcomes. However, he added that things are “so far so good.” AS 

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