AfricaBanishangul Gumuz Regional stateEthiopiaEthiopia CrisisMetekel CrisisNewsSecutity

News: Victims of Metekel attacks buried in mass graves; taskforce announces curfew

Brigadier General Alemayehu Weldie. Photo: ENA

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Ababa, January 15/2021 – Following the latest attack in Metekel zone of Benishangul Gumuz regional state in which several dozens of people were killed, a mass funeral was held on January 13 afternoon with the support from members of the National Defense Forces who are part of the special task force assigned by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and local authorities.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Alemayehu Weldie, a member of the taskforce which is led by Major General Asrat Denero and is accountable to PM Abiy, said that 74 people were killed in the latest attacks. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the number of the victims were more than 80.

According to Birg. Gen. Alemayehu, in a coordinated operation to “enforce the law” several perpetrators of the attacks were killed and many more were captured in the last two days. He blamed the attackers on members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), often referred by authorities as “OLF/Shene” and “TPLF operatives.”

Birg. Gen. Alemayehu also told state media that a curfew from 7:00 PM – 6:00 AM was imposed as of yesterday in the entire Meteke zone. He also warned those who are depicting the operation “inappropriately.”

Many of victims of the latest attack were Guba, Wenbera, Dibate and Bulen woredas of Metekel zone.

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An eyewitness who spoke to Addis standard on conditions of anonymity said that the regional government and security task force were not providing enough protection for them. “We are being killed day after day, we want the federal government to see us like citizens, we couldn’t even bury our people, but yesterday afternoon, a mass funeral was held by the regional authorities and defense forces.” According to the eyewitness, the funeral was divided into four places on the basis of the victims’ religion and gender.

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The eyewitness added that nearly 20,000 people were displaced from five different kebeles in the last few days alone and are currently sheltered in Galesa kebele. “We are starving and we are not getting any assistance. We can’t buy with our money because all shops are closed due to the security problem. There is no stability seen in Metekel.”

Debeb Adugna, National Disaster and Risk Management Commission public relations officer told Addis Standard that currently, 245,540  people were internally displaced from different zones and Woredas of Benishangul Gumuz Region, majority of whom from Metekele. Food shortage is the main problem, according to him. “Because of this on December 6, 2021 we sent 44,684 quintals of food including wheat flour, oil, corn flour, Macaroni and as well as 33, 1476 goods to the regional government for distribution among the displaced,” he said.   

Gashu Dug, head of security of Benishangul Gumuz region, said via phone that the region is under a state of emergency any question with regard to security matters are handled by the taskforce. But repeated attempts to reach and speak with the office of the taskforce were to no avail.

This week’s attacks in Metekel occurred in a span of two weeks difference from the last attack in which 207 people were killed overnight in Bekuji kebelle, Bulen Wereda. AS

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