12 killed in latest attack in western Ethiopia

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Twelve people have been killed in Ethiopia's western Benishangul-Gumuz region.
Twelve people have been killed in Ethiopia's western Benishangul-Gumuz region.
Duncan Alfreds, News24
  • The murders of 12 people happened in the Benishangul-Gumuz region.
  • A security official said the killings, which began on Monday, are linked to a personal dispute over a stolen firearm.
  • While only 12 people have been confirmed dead, unverified reports say that up to 40 people could have died.

Twelve people were killed this week in Ethiopia's western Benishangul-Gumuz region, a security official said, the latest in a series of clashes there that opposition politicians describe as ethnically motivated.

The killings in the region's Metekel zone began early Monday and were sparked by a "personal dispute" over a stolen firearm, Gashu Dugaz, head of the region's security bureau, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

But Dessalegn Chanie, an opposition politician in the neighbouring Amhara region, said the incident was a "gruesome" attack on members of the Amhara ethnic group, the country's second-largest.

Dessalegn, a senior member of the National Movement of Amhara political party, told AFP Tuesday that up to 40 people could have died, a figure that could not be independently verified.

Dessalegn and other Amhara politicians and activists have for weeks been sounding the alarm about what they say is a targeted campaign by ethnic Gumuz militias against ethnic Amhara and Agew living in Metekel zone.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has provided scant details about the violence.

ALSO READ | Ethiopia region arrests 503 on feared violence at weekend festival

Abiy's press secretary Billene Seyoum said at a press conference in late September that the government "condemns all violent acts that are causing civilian casualties harm and destruction" and said some 300 people "including leadership in the area" had been "apprehended for their involvement".

When asked what was driving the violence, Billene said investigations were ongoing.

"There is some information to indicate that bandits are operating in the area as well," she added, without providing details.

Ethnic violence has been a persistent problem in Ethiopia under Abiy, winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The independent Ethiopian Human Rights Commission reported that 15 civilians were killed in Metekel zone on 25 September and said the violence was an example of "targeted killings".

"Civilians are being subjected to repeated attacks with unmitigated cruelty in Benishangul-Gumuz," Daniel Bekele, the body's chief commissioner, said at the time.

"Federal and regional authorities should take the required steps to enforce the rule of law and bring perpetrators to account," he said.

Ethiopia's military is reinforcing police and other security forces as they try to stabilise the area, Fana reported this week.

We know this was a long read and your time is precious. Did you know you can now listen to articles? Subscribe to News24 for access to this exciting feature and more.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 370 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
82% - 4512 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
12% - 636 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.