News: Deadly conflict in Gurage Zone leaves four dead, dozens injured

Wolkite town serves as the administrative center of Gurage Zone (Photo: Visit Gurage/Facebook)

Addis Ababa – Four individuals lost their lives and several others were injured in a conflict that recently erupted in the Gurage Zone, specifically in Wolkite town, which is part of the newly established Central Ethiopia Regional State. Local sources, who spoke with Addis Standard, revealed that the dispute began on 13 October, 2023, due to administrative disagreements between Wolkite town and the neighboring Kebena Special Woreda.

According to an anonymous resident of Wolkite, the disturbances started last Friday when two Wolkite residents were assaulted by a group on the outskirts of the town. The situation escalated as armed factions from Kebena Special Woreda allegedly launched attacks against the inhabitants on the outskirts of Wolkite, resulting in numerous injuries, widespread looting, and significant property damage.

The resident informed Addis Standard that there had been existing administrative tensions related to Wolkite town’s previous role as the administrative center for both Kebena and Gurage Woredas prior to the formation of the new region.

Another local individual reported that a law enforcement officer has lost his life on October 14th during an exchange of gunfire between the armed factions and security personnel. Additionally, on October 15th, another resident was fatally attacked by the armed factions on the outskirts of Wolkite town. The resident further disclosed that two individuals from Kebena were reportedly killed in crossfire in an area known as “Kola Kebada”.

On 15 October, 2023, the Gurage Zone command post issued a statement acknowledging the extensive property damage and casualties. The command post emphasized the efforts being made to stabilize the situation and highlighted that external elements had escalated the unrest despite initial attempts to resolve the conflicts.

In response to the growing tensions, a curfew from 5:00 am to 7:00 am has been imposed by the command post, restricting both vehicular and pedestrian movements. This measure has been implemented to ensure public safety and minimize further disruptions, according to the command post.

In February, 2023, Addis Standard reported an incident in Wolkite town where residents participated in a peaceful demonstration to draw attention to the long-standing problem of insufficient access to clean water. The demonstrators carried empty jerry cans as a symbol of their struggle. Unfortunately, security forces responded with excessive force, leading to the tragic deaths of six individuals and causing injuries to more than 15 others.

These protests were part of a larger series of demonstrations taking place in the Gurage zone, as the residents strongly opposed the government’s efforts to restructure the region. Despite the resistance from the community, the officials went ahead with the establishment of the Central Ethiopia Regional State which now includes the Gurage zone. AS

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