45 Civilians Kidnapped in West Ethiopia

The Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement (GPDM), an Ethiopian rebel group operating in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region, has kidnapped at least 145 civilians following heavy fighting with security forces that displaced thousands of people.

The state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the civilians were abducted in Sedal Woreda following the clashes which have been raging between local security forces and the rebels since Sunday.

The displaced people will face dire humanitarian challenges unless they are assisted, the commission said.

Benishangul-Gumuz region hosts the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and has been blighted by armed attacks in recent years.

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In July, Security Forces in Ethiopia’s western Benishangul-Gumuz region neutralized more than 100 suspected rebels.

According to Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, chief police commissioner of the Benishangul-Gumuz region, dozens of suspected rebels were neutralized in a military operation in the Assosa zone of the region.

Mohammed further said scores of rifles were also seized during the recent military operation.

“Most of the neutralized suspected rebels were members of the Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement rebel group,” he said.

In February, around 2,000 Benishangul-Gumuz region rebels surrendered to the Ethiopian army, after security sweeps by the army forced the fighters to give up their weapons.

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