Armed men stormed Ethiopia’s western region of Benishangul-Gumuz on Wednesday, and massacred over 100 people just a day after Abiy Ahmed, the country’s Prime Minister visited the region. Abiy visited the region on Tuesday to assure the Amhara people that perpetrators of the recent attacks on them would be brought to book. The Amhara tribe of the region has been experiencing deadly ethnic attacks in recent times, with death tolls rising above two hundred.
Wednesday’s attack started early in the day, according to reports. The chaos in Ethiopia’s western region is different from the conflict in the northern part of the country where the Ethiopian troops are raging a fatal campaign against the Tigray regional troops. Abiy’s decision to deploy a large portion of the country’s federal troops to contain the situation in the north has left other parts of the country open to violent attacks.
According to the United Nations, Ethiopia has been facing different security issues that have displaced hundreds to thousands of its citizens since the prime minister assumed office in 2018. Apart from the ethnic killings, there have also violent disputes over farmlands between groups in the country which is Africa’s second most populated country after Nigeria, Yahoo reports.
The country has over 80 tribes, some of which have been having constant disagreements, often resorting to violent attacks to settle their differences.
One of the victims of Wednesday’s attacks, Belay Wajera who is a farmer, told reporters that he was sleeping when he heard gunshots. He and his family tried to run away from the attackers but his wife and five of his children were killed. He also got wounded after he was shot in his buttocks. Wajera said that he counted noting less than 82 corpses in a field close to his house. Four of the farmer’s children are still unaccounted for, according to reports.
A local health care worker told reporters that he and his co-workers treated almost 40 wounded people, almost all of whom had gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies. He also said that patients saw their family members being killed with guns and knives, while some said the gunmen razed homes to smoke out residents who were later gunned down as they tried to escape.
Another health care worker, a nurse, told reporters that the facility had no medical supplies to treat some of the patients that were brought in. The nurse described how heartbroken she felt when a five-year-old patient had died while being transported to the hospital.
There have been a number of ethnic attacks in the region, the most recent of which occurred on November 14. During the attack, over 34 people were killed prompting Abiy’s visit to the region.
“Evil plans are still very much set to divide our country along religious and ethnic lines,” Abiy stated in a tweet, accompanied by pictures of his visit to the region on Tuesday.