Region Sacks Top Security, Police Chiefs following Deadly Violence

ADDIS ABEBA – Authorities have put parts of Benishangul-Gumuz region under command post and dismissed top security officials of the region following a deadly violence last Friday.

A state-run watchdog said at least 15 people including four women killed by unidentified armed attackers in pre-dawn assault in the region’s Metekel Zone.

This followed at least two instances of violence earlier this month in the same region bordering Sudan had resulted in the killing of civilians and forced at least 300 people to flee from their homes.

Getahun Abdisa, deputy administrator of the region, told state TV that a decision has been made to put five woredas of the region under command post until peace and security of the areas fully restored.

He also said anyone who has a hand in one way or another will face a full wrath of the law.

The Prosperity Party of Benishangul-Gumuz has already started to take measures including firing three top security officials of the region.

Abeta Bayeta, top peace and security official of the region, has been removed from his office, the party said in a statement.

The party, however, dismissed the other two security officials – Nega Jara, deputy police commissioner of Benishangul-Gumuz, and Wagari Palino, head of the region’s special force, – from their job.

The three people are among 45 officials who have been dismissed from their posts following Friday’s deadly violence.

At least 10 of the officials are currently under police investigation. They will be charged if they are found guilty of involving in the violence, the statement said.

The party’s move came after state-financed group, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), expressed “deep alarm” over a “surge in attacks against civilians” in the region, particularly in Metekel Zone.

“Civilians are being subjected to repeated attacks with unmitigated cruelty in Benishangul-Gumuz,” said Daniel Bekele, the head of the EHRC.

“Federal and regional authorities should take the required steps to enforce the rule of law and bring perpetrators to account,” Bekele added.

The EHRC did not say who was behind the attacks but said Ethiopian National Defense Force engaged in a shoot-out with fighters in the area and was able to restore calm by Friday afternoon.