Conflicting reports on Benishangul massacre triggering outrage

As was the case with the massacre in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, the federal government avoids revealing the ethnic-based nature of attacks in Benishangul Gumuz region

Gen. Mohammed Tessema _ Benishangul
Maj. General Mohammed Tessema (Photo : file/FBC)

September 18, 2020

There had been recurring attacks targeting mainly ethnic-Amharas in the Benishangul Gumuz region of Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took over the office in 2018.

The latest string of attacks was not covered by state media. More than a week after what is said to be a horrifying ethnic-based attack, as described by state media in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, the number of people killed in the attack is still unknown.

Major General Mohammed Tessema Ethiopia’s Defense Force Head of indoctrination spoke about it on Friday. For him, the attacks were not ethnic-based ones. And they are perpetrated by “disenchanted youth.”

Amhara region’s Communications Affair office Director Gizachew Muluneh had a press statement on current affairs including the latest massacre in the Benishangul region. He described the attack as “horrifying.” From what he said the attack was rather politically motivated and targeting ethnic Agaw-Amhara.  Amhara Mass Media Agency quoted the director that he said “The Perpetrators had adequate military training and were well-armed. The attack was planned one with logistical support from internal and external anti-reform forces,” the

The conflicting information on the incident and the magnitude of the attack added impetus to the dwindling public trust on the government of Abiy Ahmed as far as protecting the security of citizens and enforcing the rule of law is concerned.  A noticeable outrage is observed among Ethiopians on social media platforms.

The Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, the Minister for Peace Muferiat Kamil, Chief of Staff of the Defense Force Adem Mohammed, and the presidents of Benishangul and Amhara regions had a conversation with residents of Bulen and Wonbera districts where the attacks took place. They told residents that “Government is determined to put in place the necessary durable solution to resolve the problem.”

Residents expressed that they still have security concerns and demanded that the security forces should not be negligent about their duties so that innocent civilians could focus on their livelihoods and live in peace.

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