Addis Abeba – A report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) concluded that an armed attack at a traditional ceremony ceremony crowning a clan chief for Akisho Clan in Somali state constituted “excessive use of lethal force” by regional security forces and armed men. EHRC said although the regional government has paid compensation to the families of the victims including the injured, but criminal justice must conducted to hold those responsible to account.
The attack took place on 20 and 21 March this year in Bambas city, the capital of Gursum woreda, which is part of Fafan Zone of the Somali regional state, located around 50 km from Jigjiga, the region’s capital. Sources in the area who spoke to Addis Standard at the time said that at least eight people were killed, but casualties might increase. EHRC’s report said 11 people were killed. The report was compiled after EHRC received initial information and dispatched its team to the location.
EHRC team also visited the cemetery of the victims in Bombas and saw “mass grave” where the victims of the first day attack were buried, and another separate grave where a woman who was killed on the second day was buried
“In all, 11 people were killed in the two days of attacks by regional security forces and armed individuals, including killings by gunmen and excessive use of lethal force by government security forces,” EHRC said. The Commission added that at least 33 more people sustained serious and light injuries in the attack, and that it has “reasonable ground to believe” the excessive use of lethal force.
The commission said its investigation was conducted after interviewing eyewitnesses, victims, families and elders, both individually and collectively; as well as gathering information from hospital sources, and contacting regional officials who were willing to comment on the case. More testimony was collected from the seven victims at their residences in Bushman Kebele, and by visiting and inspecting five victims who were receiving treatment at Jigjiga General Hospital, in the capital of the Somali state. Furthermore the team also visited the cemetery in Bombas, and saw “mass grave” where the victims of the first day attack were buried, and another separate grave where a woman who was killed on the second day was buried.
However, the report said EHRC’s although the team spoke with the regional president’s office and the regional police commission, the comments from regional special forces, peace and security office and as well as the security office of Gursum Woreda were not included in the report because repeated attempts to contact them were to no avail.
Dr. Daniel Bekele, EHRC Commissioner General, said that although the regional governments’ efforts to pay compensation to the victims and their families was commendable, in addition to this criminal investigations must start to establish accountability and in order to ensure full justice is delivered as well as to prevent similar human rights abuses from happening in the future.” AS