October 17, 2007 (ASMARA) — Eritrea’s security chief was shot four times on Friday evening by unknown gunmen. He is alive but in critical condition.
Simon is the number two man in the Department of National Security, which is headed by Wedi Kassa.
The gunmen fled immediately and Asmara is full of the military totting their guns and asking people for their ID cards.
On Saturday and Sunday, all Asmara roadblocks were tight and no one was able to pass before drivers and passengers showed their ID cards.
There is rampant speculation on the motives of the gunmen and the most-oft repeated is the case of Fikre (no last name.)
Fikre, a wealthy merchant, died last week under mysterious circumstances. Although only 36 years old and a member of the National Service (Agelgelot), Fikre was reputed to have had assets worth 300 million Nakfa. He died on Wednesday, October 3rd shortly after he was arrested for undisclosed reasons. Suspicious, his family demanded an autopsy—and for two days, the police and the medical doctors gave the family the run-around and would not release the body. The family complained to the authorities and they were able to bury their son on Friday, October 5th, at the Martyrs’ Cemetery.
The case of Fikre was the talk of the town for a whole week. There are reports that at least seven colonels (no name given) have already fled the country in connection with Fikre’s death.
Given the mysterious nature of his death, his unusual financial success at such a young age, his connection to many senior officers, and the rampant speculation about his death, the Eritrean regime decided to investigate and appointed Colonel Simon Gebredingel as the lead investigator.
There is speculation now that Colonel Simon Gebredingel was shot to impede the investigation.
People in various zones (mimhidar) of Asmara are complaining of the rampant embezzlement, corruption and nepotism going on in their administrative areas.
This is only one speculation. Some are saying that the shooting of Simon Gebredengel is a “revenge killing” by family members of citizens who have been arrested, tortured, made to disappear or killed by the regime whose department of national security has a blanket license by the regime to do so.
Colonel Simon Gebredingel is accountable only to “Wedi Kassa”, who reports directly to president Isaias Afeworki.