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Ethiopian Forces Accused Of Drone Strikes In Amhara

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Residents in the restive north-western Ethiopian region of Amhara have accused government forces of drone strikes and indiscriminate shelling as widespread fighting between the army and local militias continues.

An ongoing internet shutdown imposed by the authorities since August has made it difficult to independently confirm the allegations or get details of the violence.

Locals in East and West Gojjam, North Shoa and Central Gondar areas of the region have told the BBC’s Amharic service that they have witnessed days-long “intense” fighting.

The clashes, according to the residents, include the use of heavy weapons and drones, creating concern for the safety of civilians.

In one district, witnesses have said five people attending a funeral were injured when an artillery shell hit a place nearby.

In another district, residents have said airstrikes hit a school. In the historic city of Lalibela, priests and a prominent opposition figure told Reuters news agency that “careless” firing of heavy weapons could endanger local churches, which are recognised by Unesco as world heritage sites.

Violence broke out in August after months of fermenting tension over a government directive to disband a regional paramilitary group.

Local militias, known as the Fano, overran major cities in the region and briefly controlled an airport at the onset of the clashes but have since been pushed back by government forces.

The militias, however, continued to operate in smaller towns and rural areas. The BBC’s attempts to reach Amhara officials have not been successful and there haven’t been official remarks about the reignited fighting.

Last week, western countries, including the US and Britain, said they were alarmed by the ongoing violence and called for dialogue.


Written by: Safiya Wada

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