Residents of Gondar and Debark towns of the Amhara Regional State clashed with government security forces for three days (July 12-13) causing at least six people to lose their lives and incur damage of property. The regional government stated that normal life is back on track while residents point out the continuing tensions in the areas.
According to sources residing in Gondar, the clashes started when residents of Gondar town, Kebele 18 (around Dessalegn School) resisted government security forces’ alleged attempt to capture one of the committee members seeking a new identity for the peoples of Wolkait and Tegede in Tigray Regional State in the early mornings hours of July 12 Sources also disclosed that six persons lost their lives from both sides. Other reports show that the number of people dead may be higher. Sources also stated that residents protested against the measures of the security forces resulted in the burning and destruction of properties including one Selam Bus.
A statement issued by the National Intelligence and Security Service and Federal Police Anti-Terrorism Task Force, which was tasked with the mission of apprehending the suspects in Gondar town, revealed that five civilians lost their lives while the security forces sustained serious injuries. The statement linked the parties involved in the clashes against the security forces to anti-peace and terrorist forces residing in Eritrea. It also revealed that the suspects were involved in serious crimes including killings of person in different parts of Amhara and Tigray regional states.
Nigussu Tilahun, head of the Amhara Regional State Communication Affairs Office, told the Reporter that the incidents in Gondar were repeated two days later in Debark town. “In Debark as well, properties of innocent citizens were damaged,” he said.
He explained that the regional administrative council meeting evaluated the incidents on the two cities on July 15. “The regional government is sad with what happened in these cities. We believe that any problem and question of the public can be addressed in consultation with the local administration without resorting to violence,” he said. Nigussu also indicated that the regional government has devised a mechanism to rehabilitate the victims of the conflict and to ensure that similar incidents are avoided in the future. He advised the regional residents to be part of the peacekeeping process of the government by neglecting the confusing messages spread by other elements which have their own political agenda. “It is also the responsibility of the parents to advise their children against participating in these unhealthy activities. They should educate their children that they can resolve any issue with discussions,” he said.
According to Nigussu, taking advantage of the chaos, robbers looted properties. He further noted that even if the suspects are members of the committee seeking new identity for the peoples of Wolkait and Tegede, it will not immune them from being suspects. He indicated that the Amhara region is working together with the Tigray region to resolve problems of border demarcation in Tegede areas. “However, the issue of Wolkait is not in our jurisdiction. The question is submitted to Tigray region. If they are not satisfied, they will go to the House of Federation,” he said.
In his press conference on July 15, Getachew Reda, Government Communication Affairs Minister, told reporters that the incidents are being related with the identity question of Wolkait and Tegede, and causing to single out some ethnic groups as victims. “It is expanding to other places,” he said. He also said that six of the 20 members of the committee seeking new identity are suspects of serious crimes. He also said that the taskforce tried to apprehend the suspects with court warrant.