News: Nineteen people killed in clashes between Benishangul Gumuz special forces, militants in Kamashi zone

Addis Abeba – At least 19 people, including head of a local administration, were killed in clashes between Benishangul Gumuz regional state Special Forces and militants from the Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement (GPDM), a rebel group operating in the area, the regional state’s police commissioner said.

The administrator of Mizga Woreda, in Kamashi zone was the official who was killed. He was in the scene of the clash by “accident.”

Benishangul Gumuz regional state’s police commissioner, Harun Omar, said that the clashes in Mizga, Kamashi zone of Benishangul state on 01 June happened after the militants opened fire on the Special Forces and the later engaged in exchange of fire in response to the attack.

The Police commissioner also said that a businessman, at whose residence “a weapon being used by the militants” was found was also of the 19 people killed

Harun further said that majority of those who were killed were members of the rebel group. He also said that a businessman, at whose residence “a weapon being used by the militants” was found was also of the 19 people killed. The commissioner added that “DShK ammunition and five Kalashnikov and other several weapons being used by militants” were found in the businessman’s residence. “They were weapons prepared for the militants.”

On 02 March, attack by militants on a public bus traveling from Metekel to Guba, claimed the lives of at least 20 civilians. The regional state officials blamed the attack on “anti-peace forces” infiltrating through Sudan, and who carried out similar attacks on civilians in the past.

The latest attack comes in the backdrop of growing insecurity reported by the UN in February this year which has left more than 500, 000 people internally displaced.

“Growing insecurity in Benishangul-Gumuz Region’s Metekel Zone expanded to the region’s Assosa and Kamashi zones as well as the Mau Komo Special woreda, or district, in early 2022, leading deteriorating humanitarian conditions and prompting the secondary displacement of tens of thousands of refugees from Sudan and South Sudan,” said the UNOCHA report.

Metekel and Kamashi zones in Benishangul Gumuz state have been expereincing repeated violence particularly over the last two years. In October last year, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has called on the federal government and the local command post “to take immediate action” to strengthen the security situation in Metekel and Kamashi zones of the Benishangul-Gumuz regional state. EHRC’s report was despite the fact that in September of the same year, regional Special Forces from Gambella, Sidama and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) were deployed to Bulan woreda of the Metekel Zone following the deployment earlier of Amhara Special Forces.

The regional state has been negotiating with rebel forces on and off. The latest on was on 31 May, when the regional state Deputy President, Getahun Abdissa, said that the regional government was committed to benefiting Gumuz youths who repent and return with to normal lives with apologies, Deputy Chief of the State.

According to Getahun, a total of 493 Gumuz youths who picked up arms and went to the jungle received a peace call from the state government and have started undergoing a 10-day rehabilitation training at the state’s police training college. AS

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