Gunmen have killed dozens of people in a “gruesome” attack on a bus carrying civilians in western Ethiopia, according to the country’s human rights body.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (ECHR) said in a statement Sunday that “the estimated number of victims is likely to rise, currently at 34,” of the attack that occurred Saturday night in the Debate administrative area of the Benishangul-Gumuz region.
He said there are reports of “similar” attacks and of people fleeing violence in other parts of the region, as well as “of people who have fled for refuge.”
There was no immediate information on the perpetrators. The attack came amid an escalation of conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray region in the north of the country that has reportedly killed hundreds of people and sent more than 20,000 to flee across the border. in Sudan.
There is no known link between the violence in Benishangul-Gumuz and the military operations in Tigray.
The attack on the passenger bus, which was heading from Wonbera to Chagni, took place in a part of the country that has recently seen a series of deadly attacks on civilians.
EHRC Director Daniel Bekele urged federal and regional authorities to work together on a strategy for Benishangul-Gumuz due to the “relentless pace” of attacks in the region.
“The latest attack is a terrible addition to the human cost that we collectively bear,” he said.
“The latest attack is a terrible addition to the human cost that we collectively bear.” @DanielBekele@EthioHRC He is saddened to learn of the gruesome attack on the passenger bus heading from Wonbera to Chagni in Benishangul-Gumuz on 14 November. There are an estimated 34 deaths, but they are likely to increase.
– Ethiopia Human Rights Commission (@EthioHRC) November 15, 2020
The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has provided scant information on the recent violence in Benishangul-Gumuz, particularly in the Metekel area, where Debate is located.
Twelve people were killed in an attack in the area in October, while 15 were killed in a similar attack in late September.
Abiy addressed politicians in October, saying that the fighters responsible for the killings were receiving training and shelter in Sudan and that Khartoum’s help was needed to stabilize the area.
Opposition politicians have described the violence in Benishangul-Gumuz as ethnically motivated.
Specifically, they say that there is a campaign led by the Gumuz ethnic militias against the Amhara and Agew ethnic groups living in Metekel.
“The relentless pace of attacks against civilians in Benishangul-Gumuz calls for increased vigilance and more coordinated action between regional and federal security forces,” said Bekele.
“We urge federal and regional security and judicial authorities to work together, and in consultation with the local community, to redesign a regional security strategy that can put an end to these attacks.”