MSF says Ethiopian troops executed men in Tigray


International medical charity Doctors Without Borders(MSF) has reported that its personnel observed Ethiopian troops killing “at least four” civilians in the country’s troubled Tigray region.

The organization said three staff members traveled in a “clearly marked” MSF car on the road from regional capital Mekelle to Adigrat, some 120km (75 miles) further north when the attack happened.

“Along the way, they came across what appeared to be the aftermath of an ambush on an Ethiopian military convoy by another armed group, which resulted in soldiers being injured and killed. “Military vehicles were still on fire,” MSF said in a statement attributed to Karline Kleijer, its head of emergency programs, on Wednesday.

“At the scene, Ethiopian soldiers stopped the MSF car and two public transportation minibusses that were following it. The passengers were then forced to leave the minibusses by the military. The men were segregated from the women, who were permitted to leave. The men have shot shortly afterward,” it continued.

“The MSF team was allowed to leave the scene, but they came across the bodies of those who had died on the side of the road.”

Soldiers then stopped their car again a short distance away, dragged their driver out, and beat him with the back of a gun, threatening to kill him, according to the charity. The driver was eventually allowed back into the car, and the team returned to Mekelle.

“This horrific event further underscores the need for the protection of civilians during this ongoing conflict, and for armed groups to respect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including medical aid,” MSF said.

“Our teams are still reeling from witnessing the senseless loss of lives from this latest attack.”

After blaming the region’s governing party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), for attacks on federal army camps, Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, ordered a ground and air offensive campaign in Tigray in November 2020. In late November, with the capture of Mekelle, he proclaimed the battle over, but it has continued.

The precise number of people killed in the war is unknown, but hundreds are thought to have died. Hundreds of millions of people have been forced to flee their homes. Tigray residents, which has over five million people, have reported massacres, pervasive sexual violence, and indiscriminate civilians’ killings.

After months of denials, Abiy acknowledged that troops from neighboring Eritrea were present in Tigray and acknowledged atrocities had occurred.

“Battle is destructive; it hurts many; there is no question about it. There have been damages that happened in the Tigray region,” he said.

Abiy said that soldiers who raped women or committed other war crimes would be held accountable, despite the TPLF’s “propaganda of exaggeration.”

The prime minister accused the TPLF of drumming up “a war story” while the region faced threats such as a devastating locust invasion and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was misplaced and untimely arrogance,” he said.

On Wednesday, the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission confirmed reports by rights organizations that a massacre occurred in Axum in November, claiming that Eritrean troops killed more than 100 people.



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