Reports coming our of Gonder, the historic city in Amhara state, indicate that at least three people were killed after a group of people attacked mourners at the funeral of Sheik Kamal Legas, a prominent local Sheik in the city who passed away today after a short illness. Several reports also indicate mosques were targeted in the attack.
“The number of our brothers killed in Gonder has risen to three. Mosques are currently being attacked; We have heard from residents that homes are being looted in broad daylight and Muslim property is being destroyed. If the state does not respond immediately to the government or the federal government intervenes, it will not be easy to stop,” wrote a well know Muslim scholar, Ustaz Bediru Hussien on his Facebook.
Desalegn Tasew, Amhara state peace and security bureau head, confirmed the unrest to the regional media and said that a group of people attacked mourners with rocks blaming them that they mourners were collecting rocks from an Orthodox church located next to a mosque. “The conflict between individuals showed a tendency of growing into group conflict,” said Desalegn.
Security forces including the local militia,regional police, including the riot police were currently attempting to control the unrest, and the youth and local elders were trying to help security forces, Desalegn said, adding the security is in a capable state to “manage the situation.” However there has been a “great attempt” by “some individuals” to fuel more unrest, including attempts of “burning,” he said without mentioning who the suspected perpetrators were.
The head of the regional security bureau blamed groups whom he didn’t mention by name for throwing “rocks on the mourners” and that they were people who “wanted to taint” the co-existence between the two religions.
Several Muslim scholars and activities have been reporting about the unrest for the last four hours. “What’s is happening in Gonder city? Why is it necessary to leave a black scar that will not go away for centuries before the bad scars of yesterday that we passed through as a county healed?”, another Muslim scholar, Ustaz Abubeker Ahmed, wrote on his Facebook, adding “Where are you, the regional government, the security forces, the clergy, the elders? You need to stop the damage being inflicted immediately.”
The head of the regional security bureau blamed groups whom he didn’t mention by name for throwing “rocks on the mourners” and that they were people who “wanted to taint” the co-existence between the two religions. Pressure was also mounting to drive the youth from various areas to join the unrest by providing “uneven information”, he said. Currently security forces are being deployed to the area, according to him.
Earlier today, Gonder city administration paid tribute to the late Sheik Kamal for having a reputation for freely providing community services, including traditional and spiritual healing, to both Muslims and Christians.
“He is a pure father to Muslims and Christians,” the city administration hailed the late Sheik. “He was known as a generous father, especially among Christians.”
“He was born and raised in Gonder, where he acquired a wealth of knowledge from the ancient Habehsa scholars, and was blessed by his father, Abba Sheikh Legas; he replaced his father and has been providing free medical treatment in his place. His service was not based on on religion and belief, said the tribute from the city communication bureau.