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Drone strikes in West Gojjam "killed more than 30 civilians" according to residents


September 19, 2023


Disclaimer: translation is for information purposes


The day before yesterday on September 17, 2023, drone strikes carried out in Dembecha town and Quarit Woreda of West Gojjam Zone killed many civilians according to local residents who spoke to BBC.


A resident of Quarit Woreda who preferred to remain anonymous out of fear for their security said the drone strikes affected the two areas.


They told BBC in the first attack, "civilians that were gathered en masse were victimized" adding "at least 30 people were killed".


The resident also told BBC they visited areas that were struck by the drones.


The resident said the attack took place in an area that was located far in distance from where the combatants were operating.


In the drone strike in the second area however no casualties were reported.


They said, "the second attack struck a forest, and so there were no human casualties or property destruction".


Residents told BBC that another drone strike, this time on Dembecha town in West Gojjam, also victimized civilians.


Town residents that spoke to BBC said the attack targeted the area near St. Mikael Church.


The resident who participated in burying the bodies of the deceased told BBC that at least 18 people were killed.


BBC reached out to government officials for comment on the drone strikes that were carried out in the Quarit and Dembecha areas, but did not receive an answer.


BBC previously reported a drone strike one month ago in Finote Selam city which killed over 30 civilians and injured more than 50 people.


Yesterday on September 18, 2023, the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia issued its second report indicating it had received reports that at least one drone strike was carried out in the region.


Near the city exit, there is ongoing fire with Fano militants however a city resident explained that there was no combatant presence where the attack was carried out.


National Defense Forces are operating in rural areas surrounding the city harassing residents and telling them "give us your weapons" which has reintensified fighting.


It was said fighting is ongoing in the city and that there is no movement inside.


The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reported that government security forces have committed extrajudicial killings in various areas of Amhara Region who are told, "you are hiding weapons, surrender them".


In certain areas of Amhara Region in relation to the ongoing clashes, government security forces committed extrajudicial killings which the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) mentioned in its report on September 15, 2023.


Government security forces committed widespread extrajudicial killings including in Adet, Debre-Markos, Debre-Tabor, Jiga, Lemi, Majete, Merawi, Merto-Lemariam and Shewa Robit between July 31 - September 9, 2023.


Among the victims were those seized in house to house searches, those seized from the streets and unarmed people who were told, "you are hiding firearms".


Rights groups have repeatedly reported that In the months-long fighting in Amhara Region, civilians have been victimized and human rights violations have transpired.


The United Nations issued a report stating more than 180 civilians had been killed as a result of fighting in the region.


Since the new year it appeared things had calmed in Amhara Region but recently things have flared up again with renewed fighting in various areas.


EHRC reported receiving information that the conflict in Amhara Region has spread to major woredas according to residents, victims, families of victims, and eyewitnesses.


According to EHRC, between August 25 and September 5, 2023, fighting in Debre-Markos, Adet, Merawi, Debre-Tabor, Delgi Central Gonder Zone, Majete, Shewa Robit and Antsokiya have resulted in casualties.


The EHRC reported that in these towns and in some rural kebeles, gunfire exchanges, and heavy artillery fire have left many residents killed, injured and has resulted in property destruction though the exact number of casualties was not reported.


Several weeks ago, the Ethiopian National Defense Force Field Marshall Birhanu Jula had said, "we have reduced the Fano militants to a state they can no longer pose a threat". The Amhara Regional Government had also reported that peace and normalcy had been restored to all areas in the region.


Though it was reported fighting between the national army and Fano militants in the region had slowed, sources indicate the fighting has continued since the new year.


There has been no comments from the government following the clashes. Though medias which support Fano have reported Fano taking control of various towns, BBC was not able to verify the news through a third party.



You can access the original BBC Amharic article by following this link: https://www.bbc.com/amharic/articles/cv21y38zy71o







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