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News: Drone strikes in Amhara region result in loss of civilian lives, infrastructure damage

An ambulance carrying crucial medical supplies from Desse town to Delanta Primary Hospital was targeted by an explosive drone last week, killing five individuals on site (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – Last week, multiple districts in Amhara region were struck by renewed heavy artillery shelling and drone strike, resulting in the tragic loss of civilian lives and the destruction of vital infrastructures. Witnesses speaking to Addis Standard reported that the indiscriminate attacks caused widespread devastation to homes and infrastructure in the region.

One incident occurred on Thursday evening at approximately 5:00 p.m. in the town of Wegeltena, located in the Delanta district of the South Wollo zone. A local resident of Wegeltena, whose brother tragically lost his life during the attack, reported that an ambulance carrying crucial medical supplies from Desse town to Delanta Primary Hospital was targeted by a drone upon its arrival in the town. The explosion killed five individuals, including Henok Shume, and left the vehicle reduced to scattered debris.

“The force of the blast had ruthlessly shredded the ambulance, leaving barely anything discernible in its wake,” the brother of Henok recounted. He reported a total of five casualties resulting from the fiery blast, including the driver, two employees from Delanta Hospital, and two unrelated civilians in close proximity to the incident.

According to his brother, Henok, a pharmaceutical practitioner, had been employed at the Delanta Primary Hospital for numerous years and had no association or involvement with any armed groups in the area. “This unexpected tragedy has left our entire family in profound shock and sorrow. We are still grappling with the painful reality of losing my beloved brother,” he expressed.

Another incident occurred last week in Lasta and Habru districts of North Wollo Zone, resulting in civilian casualties, according to a report by Voice of America. In the Lasta district, an artillery strike occurred at approximately 10:00 AM, targeting a local market area, resulting in numerous lives lost, including that of a mother and child, as the market was densely populated on a day bustling with commercial activity.

The ongoing conflict between the federal government and the non-state militia group, Fano, also had a devastating impact on the essential infrastructure of the region. Of particular concern is the Angasa bridge, which connects the regional capital of Bahir Dar to Addis Abeba and has suffered significant damage.

Recently, Gashaw Awake, the head of the Amhara Roads Bureau, revealed to Amhara Media Corporation that the 40-meter-long bridge, crucial for travel between Bahir Dar, Mota, Mekan Selam towns, and Addis Abeba, has been severely affected. Despite being constructed four decades ago, the bridge remained in good condition until it endured the recent damage, as stated by Gashaw. He emphasized the adverse consequences for the local population, as transportation services came to a complete halt. “The damage has also obstructed farmers from transporting their harvest to the market,” Gashaw added.

While finding a permanent solution will undoubtedly require time, Gashaw stated that the regional government is actively working on providing a temporary solution.

In November, the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said drone strikes by Ethiopian government forces in the Amhara region including on a school and a bus station resulted in the deaths of at least 20 civilians, raising concerns about human rights abuses amidst ongoing clashes in Amhara. AS

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