Violent Clash Halts Traffic as Rival Eritrean Groups Face Off in Calgary

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On a recent Saturday evening, a violent encounter erupted between two rivalling factions in a northeast Calgary neighbourhood, causing a complete halt to the traffic. The dispute flared up amongst Eritrean groups, resulting in Falconridge Boulevard closing for traffic in both lanes extending from Castleridge Blvd. to McKnight Blvd. N.E.

As the evening neared 6 PM, an estimated crowd of 150 to 200 young males converged in a nearby parking area. Eyewitness Mian Wahid recalled the chilling scene of these men brandishing long sticks and suddenly charging towards an opposing group. To the uninitiated onlooker, the gathering may have appeared like a protest, but an undercurrent of hostility prevailed.

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In the midst of the escalating tensions, bystanders managed to capture video footage of the event. The video shows men from both groups
armed with long sticks, bats and some seemed to sport helmets too. Distinctively, some wore white shirts embossed with the Eritrean flag while others sported blue T-shirts or hoisted blue flags bearing the former Eritrean emblem.

One individual bearing witness to the event from a parking lot on Castleridge Blvd., narrated his close encounter with the unfolding chaos. According to him, people began menacingly alighting from their cars brandishing two-by-fours and pipe. A passerby informed him that the gathering indeed was a protest against the Eritrean dictatorship. A scenario the witness found unsettling given the weaponry at hand.

When he later returned to the site, the scene was fraught with turmoil involving the police. The area buzzed with numerous police and first responder vehicles as well as mounted police officers, a deliberate show of force to restore law and order. While minor injuries were reported, the police are yet to share specifics.

An intense police surveillance blanketed the vicinity into the night. By 9 PM, officers had managed to clear the parking lot adjacent to the strip mall situated at the intersection of McKnight Blvd and Falconridge Boulevard N.E.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia. Led by President Isaias Afwerki since its independence, the beleaguered nation has seen a mass exodus of its citizens in the face of widespread suppression of democratic rights like free media and elections.

The anniversary has also ignited a series of clashes between competing Eritrean factions in numerous locations, including Toronto, Edmonton and as recently as another skirmish in Israel.