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News: At least 50 civilians killed in extra-judicial execution by security forces, armed groups in Gambella: new report


Screenshot taken from a scene of one of the extra-judicial execution of a civilian by Gambella region security forces

By Mihret G/Kirstos & Assefa Molla

Addis Ababa – Following the June 14th clash in the capital of Ethiopia’s Gambella region between the region’s security forces and coalition of armed groups Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and Gambella Liberation Front (GLF), civilian individuals were extra judicially killed, according to a new report by the state rights watchdog EHRC.

The 13 page report says the killings were committed by government forces as well as fighters belonging to armed groups.

On June 14, 2022 after 6:00 o’clock in the morning, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the Gambella Liberation Front (GLF) militants entered and attacked Gambella town. After hours long clashes with the regional Special Forces, regular police, militias and federal police, government security forces retook control of the city.

A disturbing footage of government security forces shooting repeatedly at an unarmed man whose hands were tied behind his back had created an outcry on social media following the killings back in June.

At least 50 action taken mainly by government forces killed at least 50 civilians between the afternoon of 14 June and 16 June being accused of “hiding Shene fighters and weapons in their homes” the reports says. Women and mentally ill individuals were among the victims.

A disturbing footage of government security forces shooting repeatedly at an unarmed man whose hands were tied behind his back had created an outcry on social media following the killings back in June.

In addition at least 25 people were lightly and seriously injured, numerous people were beaten and tortured, individuals were vandalized and looted including by OLA, GLF, regional Special Forces, militias and allied youths during the conflict said the report.

According to the information collected by the commission from the victims’ families, residents and eyewitnesses, the bodies of civilians killed by the regional security forces were collected by the regional Special Forces and regular police in trucks and taken to unknown location for mass burial.

The commission also confirmed that families of the deceased were denied bodies of their relatives. The report adds that EHRC had requested the Gambella police on why the remains of the victims were not given to the families and why the burial places were not disclosed to the families. The response from the regional police was that no one came forward to request the bodies of the victims. A similar request was made to the city’s municipality bureau, which referred EHRC’s team to “contact the federal police.” But the Federal Police stated that the bodies were collected and buried by the city’s municipality itself.

The report quoted Gambella state officials saying that the OLA commonly referred to by the government as “OLF -Shene” and the Gambella Libration Front (GLF) fighters killed at least seven civilians on the streets of the city. State officials say another six civilians were killed during fire exchange.

The commission has urged stakeholders to fulfill their responsibilities of ensuring accountability and justice. Adding that appropriate compensation and rehabilitation support should be provided for the victims. AS






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