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News: Residents in several cities in Amhara region witness relative calm, EHRC calls for restraints, confirms civilian casualties

Bahir Dar and Gondar cities return to normal activities (Photos: Amhara Communications)

Addis Abeba – Residents of various cities in the Amhara regional state have witnessed the relative return of peace and stability in their areas where there were demonstrations and clashes instigated following the announcement of a decision to “reorganize” the regional special forces by the government.

Residents from Debre Birhan, Bahir Dar and Kobo told Addis Standard that the violence has subsided since Wednesday and the cities have started to return to their  normal activities.

“Currently, Debre Beran is relatively getting back to peace. Transport services and other activities have also started since yesterday” a resident of Debre Birhan who talked to Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity has said. 

According to the resident, due to the heavy fighting on the outskirts of the city between the federal army and the Amhara special forces on Tuesday, 11 April which lasted for about 10 hours, several people including civilians were killed, and local residents have been burying dead bodies yesterday. 

A resident of Bahir Dar city who preferred to remain anonymous, also told Addis Standard that people in the city have already returned back to their normal activities. In the same token, residents of Kobo also witnessed that they have begun their normal activities as calm has already returned to the city since yesterday.

According to regional broadcaster Amhara Media Corporation’s (AMC) report, the Amhara special forces in the Northern Wollo have already agreed to implement the reorganization plan. The members of the informal armed group, ‘Fano’ operating in the area have also agreed with the military to cease hostilities and return to their normal lives according to AMC’s report.

Disrupted transport services connecting the regional capital Bahir Dar with other cities have also been reported to have resumed.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it has confirmed that people including humanitarian aid workers were killed and injured by security forces and unknown armed groups during the violence over the past days.

In a statement it released yesterday, the commission said “security forces should refrain from using disproportionate and lethal force” and urged “everyone to express their opinions only in a legal and peaceful way”.

The decision and implementation of the “reorganization” of the special forces “must be done in a manner that does not endanger the people’s human rights,” the commission emphasized, noting that it has been monitoring the protests in different areas of the Amhara region since the beginning of the execution of the reorganization plan.

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Mass protests have taken place in several major cities in the Amhara region over the past five days, including the capital Bahir Dar, Gondar, Dessie, Woldia, Kobo, etc., with many city entrances and exits were blocked in addition to the demonstrations.

The protests erupted following announcement by the federal government on 06 April that “practical activities” have been started to dissolve the controversial regional state special forces and “reorganize” them into regular regional and federal police, as well as the national army. AS

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