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News: Drone strike claims lives of at least 30 individuals in North Shewa Zone of Amhara region

On 19 February, 2024, a drone strike in the North Shewa zone of the Mojana Wedera district, specifically at a location identified as Sasit, resulted in the loss of at least 30 lives and caused injuries to over 10 individuals (Photo: Mojana Wedra District Communication Office/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – Earlier this week, a drone strike in the North Shewa zone of Mojana Wedera district in a place known as Sasit led to the loss of a minimum of 30 lives and inflicted injuries on more than 10 individuals.

Sasit residents and an eyewitness, who communicated with Addis Standard on condition of anonymity, recounted a distressing narrative of the circumstances surrounding the drone attack occurred in Amhara region on 19 February, 2024.

According to them, the strike was directed at an Isuzu truck transporting civilians, among whom were members of a singular family and other individuals.

One resident observed that the attack came following confrontations between the non-state militia, Fano, and the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF, which occurred on February 18 and 19, 2024, at a distance of roughly 20 kilometers from Sasit, within an area known as Embuhyber.

A close relative of the victims provided a firsthand account, stating, “The attack occurred as more than 40 civilians were traveling in Isuzu vehicles, fleeing from an imminent conflict in the vicinity. It was at this precarious moment that the drone strike occurred.”

According to his testimony, an infant, aged 80 days and baptized the previous day, was being cared for by his grandmother inside an Isuzu vehicle during their journey. “Remarkably, both the infant and his grandmother survived the attack, while more than seven members of their family, including the newborn’s mother, lost their lives,” he recounted.

The family member told Addis Standard that the father of the newborn baby was at home during the drone attack. “Upon learning of the incident, he went missing, and we have been unable to locate him.”

Another eyewitness provided their testimony to Addis Standard, noting, “Upon approaching the site of the drone strike, I encountered several deceased individuals and severely injured persons. Identification posed challenges due to the fragmented state of body limbs, hands, and other body parts scattered on the street.”

The eyewitness testified, “I counted 15 deceased individuals, seven of whom were relatives, buried in a church named Qurasira St. Merry. The injured were transported to Gawuna Clinic and Debre Brihan Hospital.”

A source from Gawuna Clinic in Sasit informed Addis Standard that at least 18 individuals sought medical assistance following the drone attack. “Seven succumbed to their injuries immediately upon arrival at the Clinic, while nine were referred to Debre Birhan Hospital due to the severity of their injuries,” he stated.

The use of military drones in the ongoing conflict in the Amhara region has been reported on various occasions in the past. In December last year, heavy artillery shelling and drone strike in multiple districts in the region have resulted in the tragic loss of civilian lives and the destruction of vital infrastructures. Witnesses speaking to Addis Standard reported that the indiscriminate attacks caused widespread devastation to homes and infrastructure in the region.

In November, the UN said drone strikes by Ethiopian government forces including on a school and a bus station resulted in the deaths of at least 20 civilians, raising concerns about human rights abuses amidst ongoing clashes in Amhara. AS

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