News: Fresh armed attack leaves 31 dead, 20 injured in Gambella, regional cabinet enacts indefinite curfew

Gambella City (Photo: Gambella Region Communication Bureau/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – An armed militia attack on Nuer village in the city of Gambella, the capital of Gambella regional state has resulted in at least 31 fatalities and 20 injuries, according to a source who spoke with Addis Standard. The informant, wishing to remain unidentified for their safety, indicated that the attack began on 18 July around 4:50 pm.

The source, who is close to the matter, said 19 people from the village and 12 from the attackers, who are alleged to be ethnic Angwa militias from Abol district, were killed during the attack, adding that among the dead is Kwang Nial Poh, a respected member of the psychology department at Gambella University.

Another anonymous source provided further details about the assailants, stating that they donned the city’s police uniforms to carry out their assault surreptitiously, thereby evading identification. This informant went on to suggest that these attackers were also responsible for a previous assault on a bus traveling from Wentawo to Gambella city. 

On 13 July, Addis Standard reported that three people were killed, and 23 others were injured during a violent assault on two public buses on the outskirts of Gambella city, at a location known as Ochom.

According to the sources, following the latest attack, the city is currently under the control of the national defense forces, with public services and offices remain closed for the time being. 

In response to this escalating crisis, the Gambella regional cabinet, in an emergency meeting on 19 July, has enacted an indefinite curfew, prohibiting all movement between 1:00AM and 12:00PM, except for designated security personnel. Furthermore, it has been mandated that carrying weapons, with the exception of the aforementioned security forces, is strictly forbidden, according to the regional government’s communication bureau.

In an attempt to restore some normalcy, the cabinet has decreed that all government employees and service providers will recommence regular work schedules from the following day. 

Ugato Ading, head of the regional communication bureau, said in a presser, human lives were lost and properties have been damaged in the wake of recent violence in the region. He added, the efforts are underway to ensure security in the region with the help of federal government forces. He said “ethno-nationalism and tribalism are threatening the region”, admitting that the violence is ethnic based. He vowed any individuals or parties including government officials contributing to the disruption of peace in the region will be held accountable.

In May, the Gambella region president, Umod Ujulu, dismissed the violence which killed nine people and injured 23 in Itang special woreda and the capital Gambella city as a dispute between individuals which later escalated into communal violence.

He also said back then that the violence has been brought under control by the coordinated efforts of the regional and federal security forces, and that the plot by what he called “elements” existing in the public who try to separate the people who have lived in solidarity and brotherhood for centuries was foiled. AS

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