Military Dismisses Reports of Delayed Response to Killings in Benishangul Gumuz

By Staff Reporter

Major-General-Mohammed-TessemaSeptember 18, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- The Ethiopian National Defense Force has dismissed reports that it deployed troops too late to stop targeted killings in the Metekel zone of Ethiopia’s Benishangul Gumuz regional state.

Major General Mohammed Tessema on Thursday said members of the national defense forces had to travel more than 100 kilometer by car and another about 55 kilometer on foot to arrive at the areas where armed men execute several people in the Benishangul Gumuz region.

“After the regional government made a helping call, troops of the national defense force who were discharging responsibilities in another front were shifted to Metekel zone and managed to control the attack and stabilize the areas immediately,” Mohammed said  

He said the attacks occurred after armed men opened fire against civilians in border localities of Wenbera, Bune and Guna districts of Benishangul Gumuz regional state and killed unspecified number of people and wounded several others.

The armed men also launched similar attacks in Dangur, Mandra and Pawi localities which are located at border areas.

The terror group who Mohammed referred to as “bandits” also looted or burned houses and properties of the victims and subjected thousands of others to forced displacement.

According to Mohammed, the regional government had deployed security forces but could not stop the attacks. The armed group was defeated in joint operations by the national defence force and the regional security forces.

“In counter attacks by the government forces, members of the armed men were killed, wounded or surrendered. Some remnants of the terror group are being chased,”the major general said.

Mohammed claimed the armed men were composed of former members of the defence forces who were fired due to bad conduct and disciplinary reasons and other dissatisfied youth. The armed men divided the people in the area along ethnic lines to instigate violence .

Major General Mohammed said the National Defense Force has managed to return 25,000 displaced people to their living areas.

“Had the regional government had adequate preparations, the attack would have not been out of the regional force’s control but could have been prevented,” he added.

The major general said those localities which were hit by the violence have now been stabilized and returned to normalcy.

He rubisshed the information being circulated in social media that members of the defence force were deployed too late to rescue the people.

Reports revealed that at least 89 ethnic Amhara, Agew and Shinasha people were killed in targeted attacks in the region between September 4 and 14, 2020.

 “The attacks were carried out in three localities of the Bulen district, Metekel Zone, by a militia comprised of ethnic Gumuz which comprise about 34 percent of the population in Bulen,” the eyewitnesses told Ezega.com.

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