Hundreds of civilians 'massacred' in Ethiopia's escalating violence in Tigray: Amnesty International

Hundreds of civilians 'massacred' in Ethiopia's escalating violence in Tigray: Amnesty International
Scores of civilians, likely in the hundreds, have been killed as a result of escalating violence, according to Amnesty International.
3 min read
13 November, 2020
The crisis is causing hundreds of thousands of displaced people [Getty]
Hundreds of civilians in Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region have been "massacred", according to an alarming report by Amnesty International, as 200,000 others flee to neighbouring Sudan.

Conflict in the northern part of Ethiopia is due to forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), who have been blamed for the killings.

"We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive. This is a horrific tragedy whose true extent only time will tell as communication in Tigray remains shut down," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for East and Southern Africa.

"The government must restore all communication to Tigray as an act of accountability and transparency for its military operations in the region, as well as ensure unfettered access to humanitarian organizations and human rights monitors," he added.

"Amnesty International will regardless continue to use all means available to document and expose violations by all parties to the conflict."

Witnesses who provided food and supplies to the Ethiopian Defence Forces (EDF), who visited Tigray after the attack, recalled that most of the bodies were found in the town centre.

"Those wounded told me they were attacked with machetes, axes and knives. You can also tell from the wounds that those who died were attacked by sharp objects. It is horrible and I am really sad that I witnessed this in my life," one witness said.

Though there is no official confirmation that TPLF were responsible, witnesses to the massacre said that they were attacked by TPLF and other Tigray Special Police Force.

"There was a military operation by the EDF and Amhara Special Force against the Tigray Special Police and militia at a place called Lugdi during the daytime on 9 November.

"After they defeated the Tigray forces, the EDF spent the night on the outskirts of Mai-Kadra town. When we entered, we saw a lot of dead bodies, soaked in blood, on the streets and rental dormitories frequented by seasonal workers. The view was really debasing, and I am still in shock struggling to cope with the experience," a civilian who entered the town after it was retaken by EDF told Amnesty International.

200,000 flee the fighting

Up to 200,000 refugees could pour into Sudan while fleeing the deadly conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, officials say.

The first details are emerging of largely cut-off civilians under growing strain. Already at least 6,000 people have crossed the border.

Long lines have appeared outside bread shops in the Tigray region, and supply-laden trucks are stranded at its borders, the United Nations humanitarian chief in the country told The Associated Press in an interview.

"We want to have humanitarian access as soon as possible," Sajjad Mohammad Sajid said.

"Fuel and food are needed urgently." Up to 2 million people in Tigray have a "very, very difficult time," he said late Tuesday, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Communications remain almost completely severed with the Tigray region a week after Ethiopia's Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a military offensive in response to an alleged attack by regional forces.

He insists there will be no negotiations with the regional government he considers illegal until its ruling "clique" is arrested and its well-stocked arsenal is destroyed.

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