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Drone strikes kill 19 in Ethiopia’s Tigray: aid workers, doctor

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Drone strikes kill 19 in Ethiopia’s Tigray: aid workers, doctor

Nineteen people have been killed in drone strikes in Tigray, Ethiopia, in the past two days, humanitarian workers and hospital officials told AFP on Tuesday, the latest attacks reported in the war-torn region.

In the deadliest strike on Monday in the southern Tigray town of Mai Tsebri, 17 people working at a flour mill lost their lives, one of the aid workers said, citing eyewitness accounts.

The aid worker said dozens of people were also injured and 16 donkeys died.

“A witness told me that the drones came and hovered around a bit before dropping bombs. Then the people panicked, but after a few minutes everyone heard loud screams and went to the place to see that the women and the donkeys were dying ”.

In another attack on Tuesday, two people were killed and dozens injured in Hiwane, south of Mekele, the capital of Tigray, according to an official and a doctor at the city’s main hospital.

The attacks came after dozens of people were killed and many more injured in a drone strike on Friday at a camp in northwest Tigray for people displaced by Ethiopia’s brutal 14-month conflict.

The reports could not be independently verified because access to Tigray is restricted and it remains under a communications blackout.

An Ethiopian government spokeswoman said Tuesday that she had no information about the alleged attacks.

‘Officialities in progress’
Rebels from the Tigray Popular Liberation Front (TPLF) say government forces continue to carry out airstrikes despite withdrawing to their stronghold of Tigray in December.

Their withdrawal followed a government offensive that led to the recapture of a number of strategic locations, and had raised hopes of a possible opening towards a ceasefire.

On Friday, the government announced an amnesty for several prominent TPLF figures and other high-profile opposition leaders in what it said was an attempt to pave the way for national dialogue and “unity.”

Fighting between forces loyal to Abiy and the TPLF and their allies has killed thousands of people and forced several million from their homes since it erupted in November 2020.

Tigray itself is under what the UN calls a de facto blockade that prevents life-saving food and medicine from reaching its six million people, including hundreds of thousands in famine-like conditions.

The strike reported on Monday came on the same day that US President Joe Biden expressed concern over continued violence in a phone call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Biden expressed concern that “ongoing hostilities, including recent air strikes, continue to cause civilian casualties and suffering,” according to a White House statement.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, himself a Tigrayan, said on Twitter that he was “deeply concerned by reports of another drone strike on #Tigray, which resulted in the injuries and deaths of too many civilians.”

“I echo the call of the Secretary General (of the UN), Antonio Guterres, for an end to the conflict in Ethiopia and for the urgent entry of humanitarian aid.”

Aid workers who spoke to AFP on Tuesday also said that the attack on the camp for displaced persons in Dedebit, northwest of Tigray, had killed 59 people, with one reporting 138 injuries.

In the aftermath of that attack, aid agencies suspended their operations in the area, according to the UN emergency response agency, OCHA.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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