You are currently viewing News Analysis: Clashes between armed Fano, local security result in casualties in Mota city; officials blame ‘unidentified armed group’ for death of security forces

News Analysis: Clashes between armed Fano, local security result in casualties in Mota city; officials blame ‘unidentified armed group’ for death of security forces

Armed Fano members. Picture: Mota City Communication Bureau. Archive/December 2021

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba – Clashes broke out on Sunday 06 March in Mota town, in East Gojjam Zone of Amhara regional state, leaving unknown numbers injured, reports said. Tension was running high in the town following the arrest by government security forces of the leader of the local Fano, an informal armed group from the Amhara region, according to Wazema radio. Sunday’s confrontation between Fano members in Mota town and federal security forces was caused by a request made by the later to stop an ongoing military training for Fano members.

In a statement it released this morning, Mota city Administration said that four security forces were killed by “unidentified armed forces” on Sunday.

According to the report on Wazema, however, the clashes preceded the refusal of an unnamed leader of Fano in Mota town, who was late on arrested. Subsequently, clashes broke out. Quoting residents of the town the report said that at least six people were injured in the shoot-out, which followed the deployment of additional security forces. The town has since regained stability. 

Similar incidents happened in Ginde Wein, Yejube, and Bebiwugn woredas in the regional state, according to the report, where there were confrontations between regional government forces and members of Fano. “The tension between Fano and regional government forces is a great concern”, the report said, adding, “Clandestine military training of Fano members are starting to  taking place due to fears of government’s intentions to dismantle the Fano structure.”

The Mota city administration added that the armed group who operates in the guise of Fano mobilized from other woredas and launched the attack on the town

The Mota city Administration, on its part, issued a statement this morning stating that four security forces were killed in an ambush by unidentified security armed forces on Sunday.  The city administration added that the armed group who operates in the guise of Fano mobilized from other woredas and launched the attack on the town. The armed group forcefully hijacked a vehicle that belonged to the Ethiopian Electric Power Authority and seized weapons from a police officer in Ayen Birhan Kebele of Hulet Eju Enese Woreda, the city administration said. 

The statement listed the names of four members of government security forces who were killed while they were on duty protecting the city. Additional police officers and militias were injured, the statement said and concluded by expressing condolences to the family of the deceased.  The city administration called on its residents, particularly the youth to stand by the security forces in being vigilant, and take action to prevent the conspiracy that intended to destabilize the city. 

The organizational structure of Fano has been a widely controversial issue since last year. The Fano, who are an armed group of thousands of young men and women in Amhara regional state who are not a part of the regular structure in both the federal and state security apparatus but have been on the side of the federal and regional forces in the ongoing armed conflict with Tigrayan forces.

In November the Security Council Command Post of Bahir Dar city, the capital city of Amhara regional state, called on the members of Fano to get registered and organized under the structure of government security forces. The Security Council Command Post pledged that the city administration will provide logistical support for any armed individual trained and organized under the Fano structure but want to come under the government security structure. It cautioned those who are found carrying weapons in different parts of the city without the approval of the regional Peace and Security office or the Office of Peace and Security Council that they will be held accountable by security forces.

The  Amhara State Government Communication Bureau Head, Gizatchew Muluneh, told the Ethiopian Press Agency at the time that the government “will organize” and “not disarm” Fano members who have paid sacrifices for the survival of the country and people’s freedom

Earlier in January, a widely circulated document allegedly prepared by the federal government detailing post-war security challenges facing different regional states including the Amhara region discussed the challenges of privatization of arms among civilians and irregular armed groups, especially the Fano. The Security Council discussed the existence of illegal arms trafficking and informal forces connected to the activities of the Tigrayan forces in the same month. Temesgen Tiruneh, Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Service(NISS) and former president of the Amhara region said that necessary measures will be taken on informal forces based on studies conducted. Authorities in the Amhara region and political parties have since voiced their opposition to the proposition. 

The  Amhara State Government Communication Bureau Head, Gizatchew Muluneh, told the Ethiopian Press Agency at the time that the government “will organize” and “not disarm” Fano members who have paid sacrifices for the survival of the country and people’s freedom. He said that in the history of the Amhara people, the Fano protect the Amhara “from the enemy and humiliations” as well as pay sacrifices for the Amhara people to benefit from development and political areas. Therefore, the government “will further organize” the Fano and “will not disarm them.”

Gizachew asserted that the government has no reason to disarm them, he said further explaining that the government’s intention was not to disarm the Fano, but to help those who sustained hurt while fighting for their country.

Balderas For Genuine Democracy also said in a statement released on February, that Fano are not informal forces but a force playing a role to save the country “from invasion and displacement in times of crisis while engaging in professional activities in times of peace.” Balderas also outlined seven points on alleged negotiation between the federal government and Tigrayan authorities.

“Fano is a temporarily assembled force mobilized in the jungle to defend its environs and its country from attack; it is not a permanent, informal organization. This is evident from the history of fascist Italy invading Ethiopia,” the party said.AS

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