Ethiopian Ministry of Defense said it will investigate the death of eight civilians in West Gondar region. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defense Forces, General Berhanu Jula told journalists that the incident happened when defense forces were escorting Sur Construction company.
The company was moving its equipment out of West Gondar with a military convoy protection, when residents of Gende Wuha stopped the convoy and demanded that the trucks be searched.
During the press briefing, General Berhanu said the trucks were searched as demanded by the residents of the town and were cleared . But moments later, in a different incident, a military convoy transporting water was fired upon by unknown gunmen and two soldiers were injured and the soldiers fired back.
He said, the Sur Construction convoy was stopped again by protesting residents and while the soldiers and residents were talking, fires were shot indiscriminately by unknown gunmen towards the convoy and civilians were killed. When asked why the armed forces did not deescalate the situation, the Deputy Chief of Staff said, the soldiers first need to defend themselves because they were fired upon. The government will investigate the incident and if the armed forces is found to be at fault, he said the army will apologize and compensate the victims’ family. He denounced reports that said the military fired on civilians with out full investigation.
When asked why a private company needs a military convoy, General Berhanu said, “You are a journalist right, if you are unable to go to Metema to report due to security reason and ask for an escort, we will provide you protection let alone a major corporation. ”
Sur Construction is one of the major companies owned by Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), a TPLF affiliated company.
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