published : 2023-09-25

Renewed Clashes Erupt in Ethiopia's Amhara Region Over Disarmament Dispute

Amhara, Ethiopia's Second-Most Populous State, Seeks to Protect Its Local Forces

An image capturing the intense clashes between Fano fighters and military units in Gondar, Ethiopia. The smoke-filled streets and the bravery of the individuals involved are beautifully portrayed in this photograph. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

Fresh fighting has erupted in the second-biggest town of Ethiopia's turbulent Amhara region as militiamen clash with the military over government plans to disarm local forces.

In the town of Gondar, an important tourist and commercial hub, fighters from a militia called Fano took on military units on Sunday, according to residents.

The clashes were intense and caused widespread concern among the townspeople, with the situation being described as 'very heavy' by one anonymous resident.

Although calm has been mostly restored by Monday morning, sporadic gunfire can still be heard, and the town remains tense.

The military has managed to regain control of Gondar, but shops are closed, and the streets are deserted, reflecting the unease and fear that linger.

Fortunately, other areas of Amhara, such as the regional capital Bahir Dar and the tourist town of Lalibela, have not experienced any fighting, providing some respite for their residents.

A striking aerial view of the regional capital, Bahir Dar, in Amhara, Ethiopia. The city, untouched by the recent violence, exudes a sense of calm and resilience. (Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

This recent outbreak of violence is the latest episode in the ongoing conflict that has plagued Amhara since early August.

Previously, Fano fighters had seized control of several major towns, and roads were blocked by protesting locals.

The military eventually launched a counteroffensive, reclaiming control of the region after a few days of intense fighting.

In response to the unrest, the government resorted to blocking internet access and imposing a state of emergency, exacerbating the already tense situation.

The situation in Amhara has raised concerns about the possibility of another civil war, reminiscent of the conflict that recently unfolded in the neighboring Tigray region.

It was only in November that a ceasefire was achieved in Tigray, bringing an end to the hostilities that had ravaged the area.

A powerful portrait of an Amhara ethnic group member standing proudly, with a determined expression on their face. This image represents their unwavering belief in the necessity of their local forces for protection. (Taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III)

At the heart of these clashes in Amhara lies the government's decision to disarm the region's forces, citing them as a threat to Ethiopia's constitutional order.

However, members of the Amhara ethnic group argue that these local forces are crucial for their protection, especially in light of previous attacks against their community.

The United Nations has reported that the violence in Amhara has claimed the lives of over 180 people, and the wave of arrests targeting ethnic Amhara individuals has sparked further concern among international organizations.

Local officials have become prime targets for assassination, leading to the temporary collapse of state structures in many areas, according to Ethiopia's state-appointed human rights commission.

As this situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the government will navigate the challenges in Amhara and whether a lasting resolution can be reached to ensure peace and stability in the region.