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News: Two civilians, a police officer killed in clashes between residents, security forces in Derashe Special Woreda, southern region

Derashe Special Woreda. Picture: Screenshot/Archive

By Natnael Fite @NatieFit

Addis Ababa – Two people, including a policeman, were killed in Ataya village, Derashe Special Woreda of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNP) in a clash between regional security forces and residents on 02 January 2023, a resident of the special woreda told Addis Standard. The Regional police commission also confirmed the casualty.

A resident of Ataya village, who wanted to remain anonymous for safety reasons, told Addis Standard that the two civilians were killed in an exchange of fire between the regional police and residents of the village after 12:30 PM local time on Monday.

“That evening, the police were shooting in our village saying they had found a wanted [person] suspected of crimes. In this situation, shots were even fired at the police. Thus, one person from the police and another person [who was the] alleged suspect were killed,” he said.

According to the resident, the day after the shooting, the police broke into residents’ homes causing lots of damages, forcing thousands of residents are flee to neighboring villages and forests for their safety since then.

“Many people are fleeing to neighboring villages and forests for fear of revenge from the police after their member has been killed. Only women and children remained there. Even yesterday [Wednesday], I don’t know who did it but the residents’ house was burning.”

Alemayehu Mamo, commissioner of the SNNP Regional Police Commission, confirmed to VOA that a police officer and a wanted person were killed in the violence caused by an attempt to get criminal suspects released.

“Regional policemen deployed in Ataya village on a mission of arresting criminally wanted persons were about to transfer three arrested persons to the regional center when the organized people launched a sudden attack on the policemen. A police member and one criminally wanted person were killed in the exchange of fires. While one of the arrested persons escaped, one was arrested and brought to court,” the police commissioner said.

The commissioner added that the regional and federal police were moving to arrest the suspects who were charged by the prosecutor in their absence, and the problem was caused when people who wanted “the criminals” not to be arrested arose violence.

Addis Standard has been reporting on persistent security problems in Derashe special woreda including the killing of the administrator of the woreda, Joberna Assefa, by gunmen on 30 April 2022, an act which the local security and peace bureau head attributed to ‘’forces of destruction’’. That was the second killing of a senior government official in the area in as many weeks. In March, Geremu Gelebo, head of the revenue bureau of Segen woreda was gunned down while dining in a hotel with his friends.

In May 2022, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNP) Police Commission announced that it has arrested over 300 individuals suspected of partaking in the conflicts within Derashe special woreda. Alemayehu Mamo, Commissioner of the SNNPR Police Commission, told state media at the time that ‘armed anti-peace forces’ had wrecked significant humanitarian, economic and social havoc for Derashe starting from 26 April that year. AS

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