ADDIS ABEBA – Authorities have arrested at least five regional and federal officials officials including the former deputy governor of Benishangul-Gumuz region in connection with the killings of scores civilians by gunmen on Wednesday.
The list of the arrested people includes former deputy governor of the region Adgo Amsaya and deputy minister of ministry of labour and social affairs Tomas Qui.
The region’s prosperity party bureau, Bandig Mara; former director of the region’s science and technology agency, Shferaw Chilibo; and former regional official Arega Balbid are also among the officials arrested on Thursday.
The region said arresting regional, federal and party officials suspected of involvement in the violence in any way would continue.
“Anyone who is suspected of having involvement or a link in this or other similar attacks will be arrested and face justice,” Ashadli Hassen, president of the region, told state television. “At least five to six officials have so far been arrested,” he added.
The latest attack took place in Bekuji village – an area 90 km far from Bulen town of Metekel Zone – where multiple ethnic groups reside. Ethinic Shinashas were largely a subject of the latest attacks.
Call for swift Action
According to survivors, the attacks began in the early hours, 4:00 am, and carried on until midday. At least 100 people died and 36 injured in the latest bout of ethnically motivated attack, according to Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
While previous incidents involved assailants staging their attacks from “forests and bushes”, victims told EHRC they were able to recognize those involved in the December 23 attack “by name and sight”.
The commission said the latest attack “is a sign of a severe decline of human rights protections in the region”.
EHRC’s team had visited 36 victims who were receiving treatment at Bulen Hospital on Wednesday.
“The majority for gunshot wounds and others for injuries sustained from arrow attacks,” it said, reporting the loss of life, physical injury and property loss, crops and harvests were burned and destroyed.
One witness described seeing at least 18 piles of harvested crops on fire.
“Authorities should make provision of medical and humanitarian assistance to victims and those displaced by the December 23 attacks a priority and promptly start investigations to bring the perpetrators to account, both for failure to protect and aggravation of the attacks,” EHRC said.
The deadly attack occurred a day after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed traveled to the region to discuss the recurrence of ethnic-based violence in recent months.
Abiy has extended his deepest condolences over the inhuman acts committed against innocent civilians in a twitter message on Thursday.
He also announced the deployment of the necessary forces to address the root causes of security problem in the Metekel zone, which experienced recurrent attacks.
“Our efforts to resolve the problem in different ways didn’t bring the required outcomes,” he wrote on his official Facebook page.
“The objective of our enemies is to disband the strong power that we placed against the junta. This will not succeed,” he added.
The Prime Minister finally called on all to work together as usual so as to achieve the required result.
So far, federal forces has taken military measures and killed at least 42 ‘anti-peace elements” men in the region and seized seized several weapons and bow and arrows used in the attack.
Benishangul-Gumuz region, which borders Sudan and where Ethiopia’s $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile located, has witnessed at least four deadly attacks since September including a gun attack on a passenger bus in November that killed 34 people.