On Sunday, April 3, in the Shuq area of Asmara, Eritrean soldiers escorting convoys of conscripts opened fire on young recruits and civilians, killing and injuring an undisclosed number.
The conscripts were en-route from training camps in Western Eritrea to Assab where they were, allegedly, to work as laborers in a planned Emirati construction of the Assab-Massawa road.
It all started at Bloco Keren (Mai Temenai area of Asmara) when two conscripts jumped off the truck they were on and were immediately killed.
The drivers had been given strict instructions to not stop under any circumstance and the convoy continued on its journey.
What appears to have been an isolated incident at Bloco Keren was followed by a planned escape in Shuq, in the crowded downtown Asmara: allegedly, some of the conscripts had told their friends and family to wait for them and whisk them away as they jumped off the trucks. A large group of families and friends cramped the Shuq area waiting for their loved ones. When they saw the approaching truck, young friends of the conscripted used the city’s red bus to block the convoy. With the convoy stopped, many conscripts jumped off their trucks, to join awaiting family and friends–and that’s when the guards opened fire at the conscripts, their families and friends.
The number of dead is unknown but assenna.com and erena.org, who first reported the story, indicate that there were four casualties.
What appears to have made matters worse is that the guards, who were operating under strict instructions to not stop under any condition, ran over a young conscript who had fallen face first as he tried to jump off his truck.
This resulted in an already-tragic situation descending into chaos: the gathered crowd screamed in shock at the sight of a truck deliberately running over an unconscious person and killing him.
An enraged crowd started throwing rocks at the convoys and the kalay medeber (2nd station) police were called to pacify the chaos. In the melee, a police van was totally demolished.
Many of the wounded were taken to Halibet Hospital.
The “National Security” office has begun an investigation and, if past is prologue, the investigation will focus exclusively on identifying and enforcing the disappearance of the “ring leaders”, many of whom are ordinary mothers from Asmara neighborhoods.
The incident has not been reported by government-owned media.
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