Dozens reported dead after attack by gunmen in Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz region

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -Dozens of people died in a dawn attack on Wednesday by unknown gunmen in Ethiopia's western region of Benishangul-Gumuz, residents told Reuters, the latest deadly violence in the area. Gashu Dugaz, a senior security official from the region, said authorities were aware of the attack and were verifying details of the identities of the attackers and the victims, but did not give further information.

Reuters December 24, 2020 00:11:45 IST
Dozens reported dead after attack by gunmen in Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz region

Dozens reported dead after attack by gunmen in Ethiopias BenishangulGumuz region

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -Dozens of people died in a dawn attack on Wednesday by unknown gunmen in Ethiopia's western region of Benishangul-Gumuz, residents told Reuters, the latest deadly violence in the area.

Gashu Dugaz, a senior security official from the region, said authorities were aware of the attack and were verifying details of the identities of the attackers and the victims, but did not give further information.

The Horn of Africa country's military has been fighting rebellious forces in the northern Tigray region for over six weeks in a conflict that has displaced close to 950,000 people.

Federal troops deployed in other regions of Africa's second-most populous nation were deployed to fight in that conflict, raising fears of a security vacuum.

Even before the Tigray war erupted last month, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government had been grappling with rising insecurity in many parts of the country. Violence between groups fighting over land and other resources has forced many hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since Abiy took office in 2018, according to United Nations estimates.

82 BODIES COUNTED IN FIELD

Belay Wajera, a farmer in the western town of Bulen, told Reuters he counted 82 dead bodies in a field near his home after Wednesday's dawn attack. He and his family awoke to the sound of gunshots and ran out of their home as men shouted "catch them", he said. His wife and five of his children were shot dead, he was shot in the buttocks while four other children escaped and are now missing, he told Reuters by phone late on Wednesday.

Another resident of the town, Hassen Yimama, said armed men stormed the area around 6 a.m. (0300 GMT). He told Reuters that he counted 20 bodies in a different location. He grabbed his own weapon but assailants shot him in the stomach.

A local medic said he and colleagues treated 38 injured people, most suffering from gunshot wounds. Patients told him of relatives who were killed with knives and told him that gunmen set houses on fire and shot at people trying to escape, he said.

"We weren’t prepared for this and we are out of medicine," a nurse at the same facility told Reuters, adding that a five-year-old child died while being transferred to the clinic.

The attack came the day after the prime minister and the military's chief of staff Birhanu Jula and other senior federal officials visited the region to urge calm after a number of deadly incidents between rival ethnic groups in recent months. The most recent previous attack in the area was on Nov. 14, when gunmen targeted a bus and killed 34 people.

"The desire by enemies to divide Ethiopia along ethnic and religious lines still exists. This desire will remain unfulfilled," Abiy tweeted on Tuesday along with photos of his meetings that day in the town of Metekel, near where the (Nov. 14??) attack occurred. He said residents voiced a wish for peace and that the sentiment "outweighs any divisive agenda".

The prime minister's spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday's attack.

(Reporting by Addis Ababa newsroom Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.