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Dozens of Eritrean mutineers killed says army deserter

September 30, 2013 (SHIRE, ETHIOPIA) – An Eritrean soldier who recently fled to Ethiopia has alleged that many of the dissident soldiers who in January laid siege at the ministry of information building in the capital Asmara have been killed.

Over 100 Eritrean dissident soldiers on January 21, 2013 stormed and took control of the ministry of information in Asmara and called for political reform and a return to the country’s 1997 constitution.

The day-long mutiny ended after Special Forces loyal to President Isaias Afeorki surrounded the building and the mutineers agreed to release hostages and to peacefully return to their base.

The Eritrean army deserter who refused to be named for fear of reprisal against his relatives back in Asmera, said most of the mutineers were arrested days after their failed mutineer.

According to the former Eritrean soldier, Special Forces took many of the dissident soldiers from their base and detained them in a secret detention facility where they were subjected to torture and inhuman treatment.

“To my knowledge 26 of the mutineers were brutally murdered by secret agents”, he told Sudan Tribune.

As to the fate of the others he said “I don’t know what happened to the others but I am sure their fate won’t be different”.

He said he fled to Ethiopia after a military official warned him that his life was in danger after he was accused of disobeying military orders.

President Isaias Afworki who has ruled Eritrea since independence from Ethiopia in 1993 has zero-tolerance for dissent and criticism.

The red sea nation has no legally functioning opposition political party and has since independence been a one-party state.

The army deserted said dissatisfaction within the Eritrean military has increased. January’s mutiny was seen as the latest challenge to the Eritrean president and an indicator of growing discontent in the military.

It is estimated that Eritrea has up to 10,000 political prisoners.

(ST)