Addis Standard staff
Addis Abeba, September 03/2021 – The Amhara regional state President Agegnehu Teshager told state broadcaster ETV last night that the regional state forces have repelled new attacks through “a third frontier” from areas where the region is bordering with Sudan.
The President said that attacks were launched through Metema, Taya and Nefas Gebeya frontiers bordering Sudan “Samri group”, who “fled to Sudan refugee camps after committing atrocities in Mai Kadra” he said, adding the attack was launched together with armed members of the “radical Kimant rebels.”
“We have tried to look at their IDs, they all have refugee ID cards, they all came from Tigray. We are able to know that there is a force who is militarily trained in Sudan refugee camps and is mobilizing to dismantle Ethiopia,” the President said.
According to him, a group of “Kimant radical force” has led the Samri group from refugee camps in Sudan into Shinfa, a small town in Amhara state located approximately 50 -60 kms from the border with Sudan. However, the group was “completely destroyed,” by security forces.
“On this occasion, let it be known that this radical Kimant rebel group is attacking us together with the enemy forces”Agegnehu Teshager
Agegnehu further said that some radical elements of the Kimant people who “claim to fight for the just cause and democracy for Kimant people were hijacked by the T.P.L.F forces and were being supported, trained, and provided with weapons.”
“On this occasion, let it be known that this radical Kimant rebel group is attacking us together with the enemy forces,” he said.
The Kimant minority group in Amhara state has suffered repeated violence especially following a referendum held in September 2017
The President’s statement adds a new dynamic to the armed conflict that is spreading in the regional state following military attacks by Tigrayn armed forces. Previously, the zonal administration of Central Gonder Zone, where the Kimant minority live, accused the Kimant Democratic Party of having affiliations with Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).
The Kimant minority group in Amhara state has suffered repeated violence especially following a referendum held in September 2017 to determine the administrative jurisdiction of the Kimant people.
In April this year a violence that flared after “armed groups and security forces” clashed in Chilga Wereda of central Gondar zone has claimed the lives of yet unknown numbers of civilians. According to the peace and security bureau head of the Amhara regional state, Sisay Damte, blamed the violence on OLA and Kimant armed groups.
But members of the Kimant community blame the Amhara Regional state Special forces and Fano, the informal armed youth group in the region, for being behind the attacks.
In May 2020, Amnesty International reported that “the Liyu police, local administration militia and two Amhara youth vigilante groups joined forces to attack members of the Kimant community in January 2019, and again in September-October 2019, leaving at least 100 people dead and hundreds displaced. Qimant homes and property were also destroyed.
Amnesty also said “from 10-11 January 2019, the security forces and vigilante groups attacked a Kimant settlement in Metema with grenades and guns and set homes on fire. Fifty-eight people were killed within 24 hours as soldiers in a nearby camp failed to respond to cries for help. Flyers and leaflets telling Qimant civil servants to leave the area had been circulating since September 2018, but the authorities took no action.”
The regional state dismissed the report as “false and unfounded.”
The result of the September referendum was approved by the House of Federation in October 2017. Since then however, clashes have frequently visited the two communities
Such news of violence affecting civilians of the minority groups started surfacing after in a referendum was held in September 2017 to determine the administrative jurisdiction of the Kimant people, who live in Central Gonder and its environs in Amhara state. Seven of the eight Kebeles where the referendum took place have voted to remain in the administrative jurisdiction of the Amhara Regional State, whereas residents in Quaber Lomye Kebele voted to join the Kemant self-administrative zone, which was established two year prior to the referendum in 2015.
The result of the September referendum was approved by the House of Federation in October 2017. Since then however, clashes have frequently visited the two communities. Authorities in Amhara state blame the “Kimant identity group”, which refused to accept the results of the referendum, for the clashes, whereas Kimant community members and advocacy groups blame regional authorities for trying to violently force them to remain in the administrative jurisdiction of the Amhara regional state.
Amidst continued violence largely unknown to the general public due to absence of media reporting, more than 3000 members of the Kimant minority group have fled to Sudan in recent months. Emebet Demoz, a refugee who spoke to AFP said “homes were burned and people were killed with machetes.” AS