News: Security forces shoot civilians in Gambella city two days after regional gov’t vows to ‘totally eradicate’ remaining members of Oromo, Gambella armed groups

By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne

Addis Abeba – A disturbing footage of government security forces shooting repeatedly at an unarmed man whose hands are tied behind his back made rounds on several social media platforms today. The recording is reportedly in the capital of Gambella regional state where the joint forces of the Gambella Liberation Front/Army and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) announced that they were undertaking a joint operation in the city two days ago.

Sources close to the victim who is seen being shot in the footage told Addis Standard “Eleven people that we know were rounded up. Only one survived. The one you saw in the video was taken from his home and shot down,” he continued, “He was raised in Gambella city by his sister. He lived here all his life.” The source concluded, “I can’t disclose more information without risking my security. A lot of lives were lost. We want the world to know.”

Another resident of Gambella city who insisted on remaining anonymous Addis Standard that government security forces were searching residences for alleged members of “Shene”.

The Gambella regional state government said on Tuesday morning that a gunfire exchange between government forces and joint forces of the Gambella Liberation Front (GLF) and “Shene”, the government’s reference to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which has been designated as “terrorist organization” by Ethiopian parliament.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Gambella regional government press secretariat office announced that government security forces have been able to stabilize Gambella city after hours-long fighting against the joint armed group of “Shene” [Oromo Liberation Army] and Gambella Liberation Army/ Front. The statement added that more measures were intensified to “clear” and “totally eradicate” the remaining members of the rebel group.

The resident of Gambella city who spoke to Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity detailed that government security forces were searching residences for alleged members of “Shene”. The resident admitted that he didn’t hear about the widely circulating footage but explained that he witnessed a similar incident in a locality called “Zero Amist”. He recounted, “I saw an individual who was shot in front of a pharmacy store. He was shot in the leg and was taken to the hospital. I’m not sure whether or not he is a member of the armed groups.” He continued, “It is difficult to distinguish if victims are members of the armed groups but security forces were shooting at anyone who runs away from them, men whose hair is braided and those who can’t speak Amharic or Gambella language, especially those who speak Afaan Oromo, are shot at. The government forces suffered massive losses in the attack so they were shooting victims at random.” 

Describing the current state of the city, the witness said, “It is still very tense. We still aren’t able to leave our homes. The sound of gunshots has subsided, he said, adding, “I wish they took suspects to the police station instead of executing them.

In its statement issued on Tuesday, the regional government also urged the residents of the city to bring forward members of the armed groups ‘hiding in their environs’ to security forces and to remain indoors after 8:00 PM local time. 

Addis Standard’s attempts to speak to the Gambella Regional Government Press Secretariat Office were to no avail. AS

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