Ethiopia’s Town in Turmoil: 26 Dead, 50 Injured in Horrific Explosion

Ethiopia’s Town in Turmoil: An explosion in the town of Finote Selam in northwestern Ethiopia has tragically claimed the lives of at least 26 individuals amidst intense clashes between government forces and a local militia group.

Additionally, around 50 people sustained injuries in the blast on Sunday, as reported by Manaye Tenaw, the CEO of Finote Selam General Hospital. These figures pertain solely to individuals treated at the hospital, and the overall count of casualties remains uncertain.

Tenaw informed CNN that witnesses heard a single explosion, the origins of which remain obscure.

Leading up to the explosion, the hospital had already attended to over 160 individuals due to heightened confrontations between government forces and a local militia known as Fano, which unfolded across the Amhara region earlier in the month.

In response to the escalating clashes between these two factions that commenced on August 3, following months of tension and sporadic confrontations, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) expressed deep concerns. The EHRC conveyed its worries about the substantial battles occurring within and around cities and towns across the Amhara region. These clashes, involving the utilization of heavy weaponry, resulted in the tragic loss of civilian lives and injuries.

Notably, the Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency in the Amhara region on August 4, responding to the protracted conflicts.

The once-allied government and the Fano militia, who previously collaborated against Tigrayan forces in a deadly two-year conflict concluding in November the previous year, have grown estranged in recent months. This divergence stemmed from the militia’s resistance to the federal government’s directive to disband regional forces. This move has been opposed by Amhara nationalists, who argue that it would undermine regional security.

As of Monday, residents informed CNN that relative calm had returned to Gondar and Bahir Dar. A government spokesperson confirmed the “liberation” of cities in Amhara by federal forces in a televised statement on Friday.

Despite a reduction in significant urban clashes since August 9, 2023, the EHRC emphasized that conflict persists in other parts of the region, demanding a sustainable resolution.

The United Nations urged all parties to uphold human rights and take measures to deescalate the situation, cautioning that past states of emergency had resulted in human rights violations.

Several governments, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, expressed concerns over civilian casualties and appealed to all sides to safeguard civilians, uphold human rights, and collaboratively address complex issues in a peaceful manner.

CNN attempted to solicit comments from the federal government, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, and the Amhara regional government.

In March, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally concluded that armed forces from various sides of the conflict in northern Ethiopia had committed war crimes. Blinken’s statement was issued during the release of the State Department’s 2022 Human Rights Report, following a thorough review of legal and factual aspects.

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