More than 100 people were killed by unknown gunmen in Ethiopia’s western region of Benishangul-Gumuz, the latest deadly violence in the area.
Witnesses said the attack occurred early on Wednesday in the Metekel zone in the western part of the country.
Gashu Dugaz, a senior security official from the region, said authorities were aware of the attack and were verifying details of the identities of the attackers and the victims.
The attack occurred a day after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited the region and spoke about the need to bring those responsible for recent attacks to justice. Ethnic tensions are a major challenge as Abiy tries to promote national unity in a country with more than 80 ethnic groups.
The attacks are separate from the deadly conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where Ethiopian forces and allied regional forces began fighting Tigray regional forces in early November.
Federal troops deployed in other regions of the country were deployed to fight in that conflict, raising fears of a security vacuum.
It was not immediately clear who the attackers were, though Belete asserted that they were Gumuz militia members. The ruling party in the region, the Benishangul-Gumuz Prosperity Party, said in a statement that “armed bandits” had committed a “horrifying crime.”
Amharas are the second most populous ethnic group in Ethiopia. Amharas in the region have been targeted repeatedly in recent weeks.
Even before the Tigray war erupted last month, Abiy’s government had been grappling with rising insecurity in many parts of the country.
An attack in the Benishangul-Gumuz region in early October killed at least 14 civilians, according to a security official. It followed similar deadly attacks in September that also displaced over 300 people, leading the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission to say it was deeply alarmed.
Violence between groups fighting over land and other resources has forced many hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since Abiy took office in 2018, according to United Nations estimates.