ADDIS ABABA, July 3 – Ethiopia announced on Tuesday it has arrested 54 individuals in connection with several days of riots in western Benishangul Gumuz regional state last week that killed 14 people.
Ashadli Hassen, Chief Administrator of the regional state said, the detainees which include about a dozen police officers are accused of complicity in the deadly riots that killed 14 people and injured 70 others, reported state media Ethiopia News Agency.
He further said four senior police officials, including Benishangul Gumuz regional state special police chief and his deputy, have been relieved of their duties pending completion of an investigation into the riots.
The deadly violence that affected Assosa, the regional state capital, and nearby towns last week was reportedly sparked by a quarrel between two individuals, which later turned into an ethnic dispute among the locals and other ethnic groups residing in the region.
Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, located in western Ethiopia along the Ethiopia-Sudan border, hosts Ethiopia’s largest development project – the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is under construction on the Blue Nile River with a construction cost of 80 billion Ethiopian birr (close to 4.7 billion U.S. dollars).
The construction of the dam, which will be regarded as Africa’s largest dam upon completion with a total volume of 74,000 million cubic meters, has boosted Assosa’s socioeconomic status as its role in national affairs has also improved since then.