Defense force reportedly killed 9 and wounded 15 others in western Gonder

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At least 9 people are killed and 15 others wounded when members of Ethiopian Defense force opened fire on residents of Genda Wuha and Kokit in West Gonder zone yesterday, eye witnesses told Deutsche Welle (DW) Amharic service.

Children and Daily laborers who work in farms are among the victims, according to eye witnesses. And the victims have been taken to Genda Wuha referral hospital, added the source.

A public servant in the city who happened to be an eye witness spoke to DW Amharic on condition of anonymity. He said the Defense force opened fire on residents so as to secure the release of vehicles belonging to Sur Construction Company.

Community members in believe that Sur Construction is the reason for the insecurity problem in the region.

Residents were trying to stop vehicles that belong to the company as they were leaving the region before the company completes its road construction project. Community members were demanding that vehicles need to be searched first before they leave the region.

Amhara Mass Media Agency (AMMA), the region’s state controlled media outlet, confirmed the incident today when it reported “Human lives lost due to security problem created in Western Gondar zone.” But it did not specify the number of victims from the incident. Federal government media outlets like EBC did not report about it.

According to AMMA report, the incident happened as members of the defense force tried to move the vehicles before the conclusion of consultation between the community and those who were assigned, representing government, to organize the consultation. In the ensuing situation, says AMMA, members of the defense force and members of the community exchanged fire, and “lives are lost.”

Director of Amhara Regional State Government Communication Affairs, Asemahegne Asres, is cited as saying that the issue could have been resolved through dialogue and that government will investigate and bring before law those who are responsible for the incident that took away lives.

The regional media also claims that there were victims on the side of the defense force as well but did not quantify it.

Residents and activists in the region tend to see the company as a channel through which Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLG) coordinates illegal activity.

Residents took to the street in the town to protest the killings and demand the removal of the Defense force from the region.

While activists are condemning the killings, especially in view of the incident in Tigray that involved members of the defense force, they express concern that the demand for the withdrawal of defense force from the region.

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