More than 100 civilians were killed on Wednesday in ethnic based attacks in Metekel Zone of Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State, a day after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described the incessant killing of ethnic Amhara and Agaw in the region as mere ‘Security Problem,” the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has confirmed.
The Region’s Communication Bureau Head Melese Beyene told the BBC Amharic Service that the massacre was committed in Koji locality, Bulen district of Metekel Zone. Melese projected the death toll could be higher.
The killings came after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday broke silence over ethnic-based killings in Metekel and neighboring zones and vowed to take measures further attacks.
Residents of Bulen town told BBC Amharic that the attacks began around 5:00 AM and continued until midday. The residents said at least 28 houses belonging to the victims were burned down.
The residents said about 100 dead bodies were found after the attack. The attackers reportedly used firearms, including heavy artillery and machetes to massacre the victims.
Apart from failure to enforce the rule of law and protect civilians in three districts of Metekel Zone, the government is criticized for failing to name the series of attacks as ethnic cleansing against Amhara and Agaw people.
In a discussion he held on Tuesday with residents in Metekel Zone, Abiy said it was difficult to stop the killings quickly due to involvement of multiples actors,” as reported by Fana.
The attackers are often described as unidentified individuals or groups or mercenaries of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Yet, the government, both at the regional and federal level, admitted that Benishangul-Gumuz authorities, including those in the security apparatus, were involved in unfolding massacres in the region over the past two and half years.
Melese said members of the National Defense Force, regional special police force and militiamen have been deployed in the area.