At Least 102 Killed After Prime Minister’s Visit In Latest Ethiopian Ethnic Massacre

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At Least 102 Killed After Prime Minister's Visit In Latest Ethiopian Ethnic Massacre

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On December 23rd, an ethnic massacre took place in Ethiopia’s western region of Benishangul-Gumuz, leaving at least 102 people dead.

The attack occurred a day after Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, visited the region and spoke about the need to bring to justice those responsible for the recent attacks.

The attacks are separate from the deadly conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region where Ethiopian forces and allied regional forces began fighting Tigray regional forces since early November. That fight is almost over, with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) all but defeated.

Regardless, even before the war started, the Ethiopian central government had its fair share of issues that needed tackling.

Violence between groups fighting over land and other resources has forced many hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes following Abiy taking office in 2018, according to UN estimates.

Belay Wajera, a farmer in the western town of Bulen, told Reuters he counted 82 bodies in a field near his home after the dawn attack on December 22nd.

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.

Another resident of the town, Hassen Yimama, said armed men stormed the area at first light in the morning.

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 had treated 38 injured people, most suffering from gunshot wounds. Patients had told him of relatives killed with knives, and gunmen who 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 had died while being transferred to the clinic.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed issued a statement on Twitter condemning the tragedy:

“The massacre of civilians in Benishangul Gumuz is a tragedy. I am deeply saddened by the inhumane treatment of our people. Our efforts to solve the problem in various ways have not yielded the desired results.

The goal of our enemies is to disperse the powerful forces we wield against the Junta. This will not work. The government has taken the necessary steps to address the root causes.

I urge all of us to work as hard as we can to achieve the desired results.”

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