No immediate evidence of an attack in the Benishangul-Gumuz region is linked to an escalating conflict in the northern Tigray region.
According to the country’s human rights organization, armed men killed dozens of people in a “cruel” attack on a bus carrying civilians in western Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Commission on Human Rights (EHRC) said in a statement on Sunday that “the estimated number of victims, which is currently 34, is likely to increase” due to the attack that took place in the Benishangul-Gumuz area of the debate on Saturday evening.
There have been reports of “similar” attacks and people who have fled violence in other parts of the region, as well as “people who have fled to seek protection”.
There was no immediate information about the perpetrators. The attack came amid an escalating conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray region in the north of the country, which reportedly killed hundreds of people and more than 20,000 people fled across the border in Sudan.
There is no known link between the violence in Benishangul-Gumuz and military operations in Tigray.
The attack on the passenger bus from Wonbera to Chagni took place in a part of the country where recent fatal attacks on civilians have taken place.
EHRC chief Daniel Bekele called on the regional and federal authorities to work together on a strategy for Benishangul-Gumuz, as the attacks in the region are “relentless”.
“The recent attack is a grim addition to the human cost we share,” he said.
“The recent attack is a grim addition to the human cost we share.” – @ DanielBekele @ EthioHRC is saddened by the cruel attack on the passenger bus that runs from Wonbera to Chagni in Benishangul-Gumuz on November 14. The death toll is estimated at 34, but is likely to rise.
– Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (@EthioHRC) November 15, 2020
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has provided little information on the recent violence in Benishangul-Gumuz, particularly in the Metekel zone where the debate is taking place.
Twelve people were killed in an attack in the zone in October and 15 died in a similar attack in late September.
Abiy spoke to politicians in October that the fighters responsible for the murders were being trained and protected in Sudan and that Khartoum needed help to stabilize the area.
Opposition politicians have described the violence in Benishangul-Gumuz as being ethnically motivated.
In particular, they say there is a targeted campaign by ethnic Gumuz militias against ethnic Amhara and Agew who live in Metekel.
“The relentless pace of attacks on civilians in Benishangul-Gumuz calls for greater vigilance and more coordinated action between regional and federal security forces,” said Bekele.
“We urge the federal and regional security and judicial authorities to work together and, in consultation with the local community, to develop a regional security strategy that can finally stop these attacks.”