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News: Security forces burn civilians to death in Metekel, Benishangul Gumuz; gov’t says act ‘extremely horrific’, pledges accountability

Security forces burning civilians alive in Metekel

By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne

Addis Abeba – The Federal Government Communication Service revealed the location of the place where government security forces were seen burning a victim to death in widely circulated footage on social media. The government communication bureau disclosed that the location is Aysid Kebele in Guba woreda of the Metekel zone in the Benishangul Gumuz region. “The act is extremely horrific and inhumane,” the federal government said, and pledged to bring perpetrators to justice.

However, despite mentioning the exact location, the government’s statement failed to mention both the circumstances in which its security forces committed the crime and the identity of the victims. Various speculations are widely circulating on social media about the identity of the victims.

The perpetrators are heard saying they were avenging the death of a security man who is a major in his rank. They are also heard exchanging curse words and using dehumanizing languages towards their victims, one of whom was still alive by the time he was being burned.

The head of the Federal Government Communication Service, Dr. Legesse Tulu, and state minister Selamawit Kassa were not available to provide additional comments. 

The gruesome five minutes footage shows members of the special security forces from the Amhara and Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) regional states along with members of Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF). There are also several non-uniformed, but armed men in the footage.

The Beneshangul Gumuz regional state government also defended the presence of Amhara Special Forces in Metekel zone saying they were there to exterminate “messengers of the Junta” and “remnants of the T.P.L.F. walking around carrying its ideology and school of thoughts”. 

Benishangul Gumuz region is where security forces from other regional states, notably Amhara region, were allowed to enter and operate. In September last year regional special forces from Amhara, Gambella, Sidama and SNNP states were deployed to operate in Bulen woreda, Metekel Zone.

The Special Forces from the regions are there to carry out a peacekeeping mission, according to Abiyot Alboro, the head of the peace-building and security affairs bureau. He further justified their presence as part of a collaborative effort to secure peace at the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). 

The Beneshangul Gumuz regional state government also defended the presence of Amhara Special Forces in Metekel zone saying they were there to exterminate “messengers of the Junta” and “remnants of the T.P.L.F. walking around carrying its ideology and school of thoughts”. 

In the statement issued this morning, the Federal Government Communication Service strongly condemned the act and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. The statement mentioned efforts by government security forces to control lawlessness and harming of civilians in the Beneshangul Gumuz region and cautioned against actions that put civilian lives in danger. “The government will not tolerate those who threaten the lives of civilians,” the statement warned. AS 

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