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Benishangul region gunmen kidnapped 145 civilians, rights group appeal for rescue

Ethiopia _ Benishangul Gumuz
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The security situation in Benishangul Gumuz region, specifically in Kamashi and Metekel zone, does not seem to be improving, despite the claim by the Federal government that it has been taking security measures. 

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on Friday said that 145 residents have been taken hostage by Gumuz gunmen, as they call themselves, from Sedal district of the region. Measures that are being taken by the Federal government and the Command Post that was established to restore security in the region need to be implemented in a sense of urgency, the Commission added. 

There has been a security problem in the district since January 2021 and public service providing organizations have been closed since March of this year. 

Armed groups who call themselves Gumuz rebels have been detaining 145 civilians including children, women and elders since September 24. 

Ethiopian Human Rights Commission got the story from eyewitnesses who managed to escape the situation, as indicated by the EHRC statement published on Friday. 

The gunmen are holding them hostages with a claim that the kidnapped are not supporting their [Gumuz gunmen] cause. The hostages are reportedly detained in the localities of Mershaw and Ekfet. 

At least two individuals are killed by the gunmen and the remaining are said to be in a horrifying situation. 

Additional 5000 residents have been displaced from Sedal district and currently residing in the district administration office premises. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from several districts affected by security problems.  

EHRC said it has learned that there is a fighting between Gumuz gunmen and security forces deployed to the area. However, Sedal district administration and residents who fled the area fearing for their lives say the security force deployed to the region is not enough. 

Furthermore, EHRC said measures that have been taken by the Federal and regional government to reverse the recurring killings of civilians and destruction of property were not adequate and did not stop the killings. 

Commissioner Daniel Bekele called on the government to strengthen the effort to bring about a lasting solution to the problem. He also  called for an urgent action to rescue those who are taken hostage and support those displaced with emergency humanitarian aid.

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