An Ethiopia Federal High Court has sentenced members of a rebel group, the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement (BPLM), for their role in a hand grenade attack that killed nine people in an attempt to disrupt work on the Grand Ethiopian Rennaissance Dam (GERD).
The 10 members of the group – which Ethiopia insists are backed by the Eritrean government – received jail terms ranging from nine years to life imprisonment, Ethiopia’s state-affiliated FANA Broadcasting corporate (FBC) reported on Thursday.
The court found them guilty of throwing a hand grenade at a public transport resulting in the death of nine people and injuries to four others. They were also found guilty of killing three people engaged in incense extraction and setting fire to an ambulance.
‘‘According to the charge sheets, the defendants crossed into Benishangul Gumuz regional state via Sudan three years ago after receiving military training in Eritrea and planning to carry out attacks on any vehicle headed to GERD,’‘ the FBC story added.
The Grand Ethiopian Rennaissance Dam project which is still under construction will be the biggest hydroelectric dam on the continent after its completion.
Ethiopian authorities in March this year reported that security forces fought off a 20-man contingent of BPLM rebels who were attempting to disrupt work on the GERD project.
A government official at the time disclosed that 13 of the attackers were killed while 7 others who escaped to neighbouring Sudan were arrested and handed over to authorities in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s accusation that Eritrea was behind the attacks attracted a strong response from Asmara.