Tigray Witnesses Say Eritrean Soldiers Loot and Kill in the Region


For a couple of months, Tigray officials have been conflicting with the Ethiopian government. The two have had ugly confrontations, which occasionally turned out disastrous. Amid the rivalry, some members from both parties have tried endorsing peace. However, the relationship between the two rivals degenerated into a monster when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front formed a regional government of their own. This act angered the Ethiopian government.

In fact, the Ethiopian president felt disrespected and demanded the Tigray movement to dissolve their government. However, the Tigray leaders refuted the idea and promised to protect their territory. Amid last year, the Tigray leaders clashed with Prime Ministers Abiy’s administration. The government had accused the Tigray party of inciting the conflict and stealing equipment belonging to the Ethiopian Military.

Why Eritrea Might be Involved in the Conflict

Following this incident, President Abiy cautioned his rivals to step down from their regional government. And since they refused, the Ethiopian government launched numerous attacks in the region in an effort to stop them. Amid the fighting, there have been worrisome reports that Eritrean forces are also involved in Tigray’s fighting. Some months back, Tigrayan troops in the region fired rockets at an airport in Eritrea’s capital. A Tigrayan leader confirmed that they attacked as Eritrea had sent tanks and thousands of soldiers into Tigray to support the Ethiopian government offensive.

Following the accusations from the Tigray leaders, Ethiopia’s government feared that the attack might cause a wider war at the borders. The government feared that if Eritrea involved itself in the conflict, then it could, in turn, draw in Sudan. If Sudan then got involved, the assumption was that Egypt would also get involved. An Eritrean official, however, stated in a report that Eritrea was not immersed in the conflict.

Since the conflict began, hundreds of people on both sides have died, and the war threatens to destabilize other parts of Ethiopia. Numerous people have fled Ethiopia into Sudan, looking for safer shelter. Nearly half the refugees arriving in Sudan have been children. Many Ethiopian refugees coming into the Sudanese city of Hamdayat reported that soldiers had shelled them off from seeking safety in Eritrea.

Witness Accounts from their Time in Tigray

Others who have escaped confirm the involvement of Eritrean troops in the Ethiopian conflict. Zenebu, for instance, who went on a visit to her mother in Tigray, told reporters that she witnessed Eritrean soldiers loot homes while stuck in Tigray. Zenebu said the soldiers focused on taking anything of value, even diapers. On the road, Eritrean soldiers parked trucks full of boxes with addresses to places in Eritrea. Even worse, Zenebu said the Eritrean soldiers went house-to-house, killing Tigrayan men and boys, some as young as seven. The soldiers didn’t allow for burials of the men and children to take place, and they would kill anyone for crying or even trying to bury someone.

Zenebu’s account, like many others, can’t be verified as communication links in Tigray are still down. Most news reporters are dependent on the information they get from witness accounts by survivors and others. So far, most of those providing information have confirmed the involvement of neighboring Eritrea. The witnesses estimate the Eritrean soldiers to be in the thousands and accuse them of raping, intimidating, and targeting vulnerable Tigrayans.



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