Ten Fighters Executed in Dankalia ELF 1978


The title of the book is Shuhuda al teshih (in Arabic). From the files of the Eritrean Revolution








Next page: This is a present for all the families of the fallen martyrs. Those who tried to amend the revolution



Third page: For all Eritrean countrymen, for those betrayed by their own and sinfully killed in Dankalia, this a humble narration. They were killed in 22 May 1978 in a place called Ibbi.


The booklet is in memory for the orphans of the martyrs and for the freedom of Eritrea. We the living have responsibility to continue the martyrs’ cause.


Also for the two-year celebration of the independence of Eritrea, and the 14th year rememberance of these fallen martyrs. Fighters like Said Hussien who were killed in 22. 5. 1978.








  This is aimed to amend the wrong way the ELF-RC took and that the communist party was misleading the front and these fighters took responsibility to correct it. Because of the coming of this party, the Labour Party, the ELF was disintegrating.


  Their reason to split from ELF that time was the wrong administration of the leadership importing a workers union and communist ideology that was not in accordance to our people and these splitting fighters aim was to correct it.


 The leadership of ELF was once against EPLF and other times in friendly terms. The ELF leadership have forgotten the masses that should have a say in the matters


  Those not following the orders of the leadership were imprisoned, tortured and killed. Some were degraded from their ranks and incompatible persons were leading them. Those who had served loyally for many years and fought bravely was not regarded and new ones were placed above them.




  While a third of Eritrea was liberated, they misused the notion that people should be free before land which led to the re occupation of the liberated lands by the enemy. To cover up their weaknesses and internal disputes, they divided the people by ranks, religion, tribe, and rallying to who gets power, and their arguments all added up to this dire situation. The situation is beyond amending.


  To deviate the forces from their problems, they started unnecessary internal battles that took all the focus of the people in it. This was demoralizing the people and gladdening the enemy.


 The leadership looked to the Derg as democratic, nationalist, and progressive government and praised it. They sent a press release in Beirut March 1987 on it.  While on the contrary, the Derg regarded the Eritreans as and bandits, secessionists and thieves and was killing, plundering and burning and displacing them. They plunged the fronts into civil war instead of confronting the common enemy.


  The leadership eliminated worthy, experienced fighters and replaced them with yes men of their own who had no ideology or knowledge. They were showing false hooray in the mass media and defamed those they opposed. This led to the people becoming reluctant from the front. They were reshuffling the administrators of the 12 regions.


  Because of all this, the brave fighter Said Hussien upon being freed from prison saw the alarming situation and was compelled to react. They started campaigning to eradicate corruption etc.


 Comrade Said Hussien was one of the first members of 1961 and participated in the struggle with Idris Awate. And because the people blessed this struggle and because he was fedayeen, he was caught trying an operation at the Asmera airport. He was sentenced for 18 years of imprisonment.


  In 1975 when ELF freed the prisoners in Eritrea he was one of the freed. He joined the front but saw all what they had strived for in rules or ways since the first times had drastically changed. Wanting to alter this way, he gathered persons like him and started to try to change the others. He had conferred with veteran fighters who told him they were discontented with the Labour party. They started this initiation in 1978 to amend the front. To correct the situation, they talked to the military head that agreed with them. (It does not mention who the military chief was but it is granted that it was Abdella Idris. He was member of the Party as well as in the Party leadership circle).


    Omer Suba was training some fighters in a place called Debra in Amba Soira. The military and political admininstrators came to agreement with Omer Suba to provide the 80 trainees with what they needed. The Labour Party came to know about this secret training camp and sent their members Ali Ishaq and Ahmed Haw who tried to infiltrate Said Hussien and group’s movement to find out their secrets. The military chief had met with Said’s group in SalaE DaEro, that the training was to be stopped, as the Labour party knew about it.


   When this training was discovered, the administrators of region 10, Akele Guzai, Mahmoud Beshir and Osman Ezaz went directly to Sudan and Mahmoud Beshir was imprisoned. When others slacked, Said Hussien and Omer Suba decided to proceed with their movement.


The group then decided to move from Amba Soira to a suitable place for them in Dankalia. The military head (Abdella Idris) had agreed to this group’s movement because he had disagreement with the security chief (Melake Tekle). That the head of political office (Herui Tedla) tried to take the position of becoming military head as he was in conflict with the military head. To fulfil his goal, Herui gathered thousands of Kebessa fighters who were later known as the Falool.


  The number of men who acted were 10. But those with the aim and sympathizing were many. These 10 men were to select a suitable place for their base and thus travelled first. They started their journey from Sudan, entered Yemen by boat, from there took small boats, and landed in Dankalia to a place called AnTaTa at around 6 a. m. With them landed Ali Ishaq and Ahmed Haw. They rested there till dusk and the small boats carrying their provisions and arms arrived the day after.


   The place the provisions disembarked was called Barentua 21.5.1978. From there they proceeded to the mountains and waterless desert called Idd and received there by other fighters. The reason they chose this harsh place was that was suitable for them. There they filled barrels with water.


    The two traitors among them slaughtered meat for them and fed them. These traitors were from ELF who belonged to the communist and Labour party and told to spy on the group pretending they were with the group and travelled to Dankalia with them. These two knew the area well. They ate well and slept pleasant the first night.


The next day, just like the traitors were told to mix sedative tablets on their food and tea it was done, because they could not confront the group militarily. These men were veteran fighters with many deeds and known for their bravery. As all traitors do, they had to lure these brave fighters to weakness by the pills on the remaining meat and tea. The narcotic did its effect and the group began sleeping.


Then another group of armed fighters with their leader were brought who without inquiring or hesitating were ordered to stand one on the head of each sleeping fighter and aimed their weapons on them. Still not asking why, they shot the sleeping fighters one on the forehead and one on the belly. This way, these 10 fighters were murdered in a primitive and un-nationalistic, non-revolutionary and non-religious manner.


   The 10 were not even questioned what their aim was and not examined but were summarily executed. There was no detail or names mentioned of the traitors, only that they were two amongst the 10.


   The reason they chose Dankalia by its being suitable to live undetected and defend themselves better. It was far from the power mongering, tribalist and religionist faction areas and was secluded from all these and peaceful.


   The ELF was not revolutionary as supposed with many backward tendencies, which were making the struggle fall, and these men were unduly silenced before they could inform the other fighters of the tendencies.


   The 10 worked too hurriedly though they were veteran fighters it’s being their fault and thus failed. They were against the tribalist, religionist and sub nationalistic divisions and power hunger. They had many followers. After these men were killed, the aim was broken and it disappeared with out leadership. They had followers in the field, Sudan and Yemen.


   But those who were corrupting the struggle for their power’s sake did not stay long after the 10. And as they had feared for, the whole ELF front was broken and scattered. The 21 thousand fighters who had modern heavy and small weapons were dispersed. Some were disarmed by the Sudanese at the border and some of the weapons turned into the Derg’s hands and some sold in the black market.


Many individual fighters who questioned the leadership’s corruption and division were placed into the security’s hand and interrogated, imprisoned, tortured and killed. What the 10 men had feared happened, the downfall of their front, they being executed as a group.


(A fighter there in that time, wishing to be anonymous told me his group was given water canteens and the Ethiopian forces soon took uniforms of the group’s and that one of the land rover. They had different weapons also anti aircraft missiles. That the man who told on them was called A Shum)






1. Martyr Saed Hussien Mohammed.

He was born in 1935 in the village of Se-ito-lede-gi, between Qohaito and Nebegede. He was recruited to ELF ant the 60s end. His education was at Cairo University and became member of the front in Cairo as a student, being one of the first ones with Idris Awate.


Being a mindful and brave man, he recruited many fighters to join the front. To make the Eritrean cause publicized in the world, he became one of the first fedayeens while fighters struggled in the front.


He was successful in many deeds and once while trying to hijack an airplane in Asmera, with his comrade Mohammed Birhan they were discovered and caught. High officials like Abey Abebe asked him to work with them and he would be given high position but he refused. He was then sentenced for fifteen years imprisonment and taken to Alem Bekagn prison and was there for 12 years.


Then in 1975 he was transferred to Eritrea. That year the ELF freed prisoners in Asmera and Adi Quala. But he was not amongst the freed because he was hospitalized. Since he was an important fighter to free, the fighters advanced to the hospital before the Ethiopians and with tactics he was freed and joined the other freed mates. He had contributed to the front and at last was martyred while trying to proceed with his belief.






2. Omer Mohammed Suba

He was born in 1948 in Sanako. His education level was elementary school. He joined the front in 1962. Because of his tender age, he was not allowed to fight but worked in towns like spreading pamphlets and errands of the front. The Ethiopians soon discovered him and in 1964 he entered Kessela.


Soon he and other comrades requested to join the front and were allowed to do so. He later was placed under the division of Omer Azaz and in 1965 transferred to another place. He was in the mortar section and became a haili leader.


The brave Omer Suba participated in many battles and the fiercest battle he was in was Derabush front. There the renowned Ethiopian spy called Girmai was killed there. Girmai was head of the militia. He was known to have mishandled, suppressed, tortured and killed Eritreans.


Girmai had earlier participated in a battle where he killed the brave Omer Yahya. Because Omer Yahya was huge in posture, Girmai claimed he was a fighter leader and beheading him, he took the head to the Ethiopians.


Omer Suba got the opportunity to revenge for Omer Yahya. He killed Girmai and beheaded him taking the head back to the front. This was in 31 October 1965. And in 1966 he was in another battle of Kara-kom, and in 21.11.1966 he was in a battle of Adi Shiekh where Ethiopian officers were killed in.


  In mid 70s, he was transferred to Qaid-al-katiba administration, went to Iraq, and returned to the field after taking a military course. Perhaps it was to enable him to become a battalion leader. He found the field corrupted which dismayed him. He then started to communicate with dissenters like him.

In 1962 (or 72?) he went to Om Hager and then met with Said Hussien.







3. Omer Mohammed Omer.

It does not state when or where he was born. As a student he joined the students group and did activities in towns. He went to Bahr Dar to the Technical school and continued with his activities in Eritrea.


He was discovered by the Ethiopian security and returned to Eritrea and joined the front. He participated in many battles as well as fedayeen activities in towns and succeeded mostly. His last deed was the assassination of General Teshome in Asmera when he came out of work at 6 pm. near a hospital.


Because the general’s bodyguards had new and automatic weapons, Omer Mohammed was wounded and his comrade could not save him. He was caught by the horrible security. He was beaten and tortured and yet he gave out nothing and was sentenced to hang.


He, Ahmed Saleh Mohammed Omer and Abdul Kadir Burhan were to be hanged that Sunday when ELF freed all prisoners on the eve, the Saturday.






4. Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed

He was born in 1950 in Asala Nebegedi. He studied to high school and in 1964 became involved with the revolution. Ahmed Ibrahim grew up with his parents in Mendefera until he finished high school in 1964. He was a good football player as a goalkeeper and was well known in Mendefera.


He started spreading pamphlets and collected contributions from the people but he was soon discovered by the Ethiopian government and with his mate called Burhan, was caught. They were imprisoned as anti nationalists in a juvenile section for 4 months but were not harshly treated because of their young age.


In November (what year? 64) he went to Sudan and then joined the front. First he was a foot soldier and then in the security branch. In 1969 became head of security force. In 1971 his boss selected him to study in Iraq, an officers’ course.


In 1978 he returned to the front and saw what others had already observed the front leadership being corrupted.


He had three children but he did not raise them. His daughter living in Stockholm was young when he died. Because he was the only child, his parents married him off at young age. (I met his mother in Adi Keyeh in 1994, Abdu). His children grew up in Kessela,






5. Mohammed Yassin Haji Saleh

He was born in 1944 in Asmera, with high school education. He joined the front in 1964. His father was a guard at the Massawa airport. He started school in 1951 and lived in Twalet area of Massawa until he finished high school there.


He took a 6 months course of ‘financa’ in 1960 and started working as an fnansa soldier. He was posted in a village called Adebra near the Sudanese border for 6 months. He was then transferred to Tesenei and then to Tokombia.


In 1964 with 4 others they took their weapons 10 ‘Abu Ashera’ with 100-200 bullets and went to the field. They participated in many battles and were put in the communications section of the front.


He had observed the bad leadership of the front and started to communicate with the dissidents and was thus killed with them at last.






6. Mohammed Suliman Ibrahim Mahder.

He was born in the 1950s in Soira village. He went in elementary school and in 1974 joined the front in 24.4.1974. He fought whole-heartedly, participated in different battles, and was known for his bravery.


He observed the corruption of the leadership and how it retarded the pace and the tribalist, religion and clan divisions. He became one of the dissidents and at last was met with their fate of being executed.




7 Mohammed Mansur.

He was born in 1952 in GindAe town. With high school education joined the front in the 70s and was in the ranks.


As the others, he too observed the corruption of the leadership of the revolution. He became one of the reforming group to better the front found out there were dissidents. He joined them and was also one of the victims of the executions.






8. Mohammed Shedeli Ismail

He was born in 1956 in Adi Keyeh. He finished high school and joined the front in 1971. He contributed to the struggle, worked as fedayeen in Adi Keyeh and surroundings, and was a brave fighter.


In 1973 he was captured by the enemy and taken to Asmera. There the Israeli trained security soldiers tortured him and he suffered a lot but leaked out nothing. He stayed in prison until 1975 until he was freed with other prisoners from Asmera.


Seeing the corrupted form of leadership, he was one of those wishing to reform the leadership and joined the dissident group. They were cut short from fulfilling their aim. They were sedated with poison and killed.







9. Abdu Idris Abdu

He was born in 1949 and grew up in Geredef – Nebegedi After elementary school and read the Koran, joined the front in 1967. The Ethiopian soldiers were massacring and harassing his birth area, which led him to fight for his people’s liberation. In 1970 he was wounded in a battle


He too found the front disagreeable and with his confidents tried to reform it.




10. Adem Ibrahim Al Haj

He was born in 1949 in the village of Ab-a, Qohaito. After elementary school he joined the front in 1968. His mother and the father of nr.9 Abdu Idris are siblings. They grew up together in their farmlands.


He was wounded in a battle and moving away for medication to Aden, the two cousins were separated. Healing, he returned to his place,


He saw the destruction of the front and like his mates tried to reform it.


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                         COMMENTS OF DIFFERENT PERSONS


It states in the book that it was written 2 years after the liberation of Eritrea. The 10 were already martyred for 14 years. Not known where it was printed. It states that it is free to duplicate and distribute. Got from the archives of the Eritrean revolution


In 1978 a high official from the front came to Jedda and held a meeting to the people. The representative said in the seminar that they had destroyed a dangerous group, and with fek-era (boasting). It was later all in the leadership started denying he or the other was not present in the case. That was when they saw they had no support from the people. They did not name the persons or details but that the dangerous force was destroyed.


Their supporters in Sudan, Yemen, Saudia and those undiscovered inside the field were told whom the persons were.


Mohammed Mansur’s brother was a good singer with the song “Simbil – Simbil”, Ahmed Mansur, from Ginda.


Omer Suba’s wife and daughter were living in Kessela. She was told there.


These brave fighters who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of their people and being one of the first fighters should have been known what their aim or wish was. Instead they were killed in unjust way and silenced forever. They have the right to be remembered for the sacrifice they did.


These and many others who were bravely fighting should be remembered in history. We all learn from history of our past. A front tells of the hardships, actions, events, experiences etc and these and others should be part of the history.


The secret was buried with them. And ELF did not proceed long after them. Their supporters were dispersed.


These same leadership are now in relationship with Ethiopia, just as they did with the Derg.


(These men knew what the stakes were that they could lose their lives and yet they were determined to advance with their plan. They could have lived abroad and built good lives for themselves.


Many brave fighters have sacrificed their lives for the sake of their beloved people and save their comrades. Stories have been told verbally and not much in writing. There were also stories of fighters being killed by their own front and since then considered as traitors or sectarians.


The story of these men was part of the struggle history and it can be an example of one part of our history. )

                                       * * *


Mohammed Omer was never afraid. He was wounded while shooting at a general in middle of Asmera.


The leadership of still now are again splitting the oppositions.


The Jebha leaders were wooing Sabbe so as to finish EPLF. They were black naming Sabbe and when Sabbe split with EPLF, Jebha gave him place inside Jebha administrated areas to hit EPLF. This was the main reason for the Falul movement.


When we started fighting the Sabbe group and we drove them to Sudan, Abdella was in Kessela and the Sudanese authorities brought Abdella with helicopter to make the fighting stop. When Jebha was dismantled, the Sudanese took our arms but not of Abdellas because they feared him.


 Dugul Falul means leftovers from Falul who were not at that time discovered. Dugul means hot coal covered in ashes. Same to the Yemin, the remaints were labelled as Dugul Yemin.

                                            * * *


All the 10 were known and brave fighters of ELF. They were leaders of Battalions, brigades or heads of security. Said Hussien was member of the Revolutionary Council.


There were naturally disagreements in ELF but these made direct contact with Osman Sabbe. Their movement started in Sudan and they were taken to Yemen. From there, PLF gave them arms and the 10 went by boat to Eritrea, to make a base in Dankalia, and it would be a foot hold for the others.


Because they were known fighters they had expected to campaign in that area and get supporters, also to spread inside the fighters of ELF. These were their aims. The problem was that they came as another front.


The member who leaked on them told all the details that they were with Sabbe and when and where they were to enter Dankalia. When they crossed the Red Sea and entered land, ELF was waiting for them. They refused to give themselves up and were killed in the skirmish, which is a tragedy.


Said Hussien was known for having tried to hijack a plane in 1963 and member of the leadership, in short a known fighter. He had finished his education in Cairo. Omer Mohammed and Omer Suba were also known fighters. Ahmed Ibrahim was member of Kyad-al-Amma, before the Adobha leadership.


These 10 men were not the Yemin. The Yemin were trying to make a Jihad action inside the front, like Hamed Turki and Said Hussien himself one of the 10. The 10 were not given any name.


The Yemin were not killed but were imprisoned until ELF split.

                                                       * * *


 Contributed by Aida Kidane 5/12/2007