Africa

Armed group seizes county in western Ethiopia: Report

Civilians killed, public servants abducted in latest attack in Benishangul-Gumuz region, says Ethiopia rights commission

Seleshi Tessema Mulata   | 23.04.2021
Armed group seizes county in western Ethiopia: Report

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

An armed group has taken control of a county in western Ethiopia, reportedly killing civilians, abducting public servants, and ransacking public and private property, the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said. 

The commission said it has received reports that Sedal Woreda, an area of some 25,000 people in the Kamashi zone of Benishangul-Gumuz region, “has come under near full control of an armed group as of April 19.”

“Residents who have fled the area told EHRC that the armed group has burned down and looted public and private property and that the administration and local police have fled the area,” the commission said in a statement that did not name the group.

“There are also reports that civilians have been killed and public servants have been kidnapped. According to residents and officials EHRC spoke to, a small contingent of the regional security force in the vicinity is outnumbered and additional forces deployed to the area have not reached the locality yet.”

The conflict-ridden Benishangul-Gumuz region hosts the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and has been under military command amid a recent surge in attacks on civilians, including the massacre of more than 200 civilians last December.

The Ethiopian government has accused armed groups of trying to thwart the construction of the controversial mega dam on the Nile River, which is a source of dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan.

“This escalation of the insecurity plaguing the region is alarming … The Commission calls for the immediate reinforcement of the security forces in the area and in the region as a whole and a speedy intervention to prevent further loss of life and human rights violations,” EHRC said on Wednesday.

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