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Ethiopia : Gonder fire ; entire market with 420 stores reduced to ashes

September 16,2016

Kidame Gebeya after the fire incident. 420 stores are completely destroyed. Photo Credit : Voice of America Amharic Service

Toronto – A fire in Gonder city completely destroyed one of the oldest markets in the city known as Kidame Gebeya. The fire broke out yesterday in the evening around 10 pm local time.

It is confirmed that four hundred twenty stores are reduced to ashes. Estimate of property damage is not yet assessed nor there appears to be preliminary estimates.

Authorities in the city, and from regional state of Amhara, did not establish the causes of the fire at this writing.

Owners and residents of the city, however, seem to be convinced that the fire is caused by arson and government is behind it all, indicates Voice of America radio Amharic service news coverage from this afternoon.

A resident of and owner one of the stores destroyed by the fire told VOA Amharic service, on condition of anonymity, that there has been a rumor well before the fire incident that what unfolded yesterday would happen.

[adToAppearHere]Other eye witnesses, these too spoke to VOA Amharic on condition of anonymity on grounds of fear of reappraisal by the regime in power, are of the view that the fire would have been put down before it consumed the entire market. But deployed security forces opened fire on the youth who were rushing to the scene to control the fire. These, among other things, assert residents, indicate that the regime in power is behind the arson.

Some say many of store owners have connections with Ethiopians in the diaspora and consider the arson as an act of vengeance by Tigray based government.

Other activists goes to the extent of espousing the view that the entities behind the arson are TPLF spies deployed in the city as. And the motive, in their eyes, is a retaliatory measure for “displaced Tigreans from the region”

Government spokes,Nigusu Tilahun, person for Amhara region told VOA that government worked with residents to put down the fire. Asked about views of residents that the government is behind the fire incident, he responded implying that individuals may think that way ; but the truth is we did what we can to put the fire.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne ordered deployment of defense force after peaceful popular uprising broke out in Amhara region. Hundreds are reported dead. Yet, many more cases of civilian deaths appear to be unreported due to government imposed communication black out in the region. Some areas in the region have been under power blackout for more than a month now.

Fire has become a recurrent incident in Ethiopia. The latest before Gonder fire happened in Ethiopia’s maximum security prison, Qilinto, where dozens of inmates were shot dead in unexplained circumstances.

As it turns out, one of the victim from Qilino fire incident was Major Yilak Achenefe who was member of Wolqaite question committee.

Two days ago an entire village town in Konso area was burned down in what appears to be a scorched earth measure by the regime in power.

Written by Dimetros Birku. Can be reached on twitter : @dimetros


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