Ethiopia Sacks 40 Government Officials Over Violence

No fewer than 40 regional government officials have been sacked over ethnic-related violence in the country’s state of Benishangul-Gumuz.

The violence led to the death of dozens and hundreds were displaced last week.

The ruling Prosperity Party (PP), in a statement, added that ten of the officials are now under investigation.

Five districts in the state have been put under military control to contain the violence.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it was deeply alarmed by the violence, which targeted civilians.

In a pre-dawn attack on Friday, at least 15 people, including four women, were killed. Attacks earlier in the month left 30 people dead, although activists say the number could be as high as 80.

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Four of the victims in Friday’s pre-dawn assault in Benishangul-Gumuz region’s Metekel Zone were women, the EHRC said in a statement.

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 from their homes.

“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.

It said the Ethiopian National Defense Force engaged in a shoot-out with fighters in the area and was able to restore calm by Friday afternoon.

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One person sustained non life-threatening wounds, it added.

The attack poses the latest security challenge for the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Abiy, who came to power in 2018, has implemented sweeping reforms which have won him international praise but also lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions between the country’s many ethnic groups.

Most of the victims in the attacks were said to be from the Amhara and Agew ethnic groups.

It is not clear who the perpetrators were.

On Sunday, the authorities from Amhara state accused officials in Benishangul-Gumuz of not doing enough to prevent the violence.

The Amhara state spokesperson added that his region’s government was “running out of patience”.

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There is concern about the increasing ethnic-related violence in Ethiopia. It is seen as one of the most pressing challenges for Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed.

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