Aid workers say airstrike in Ethiopia’s Tigray kills 17, UN unable to confirm

An airstrike in the town of Mai Tsebri in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region on Monday killed at least 17 people, mostly women, and injured dozens, two told Reuters. aid workers, citing local authorities and eyewitnesses.

The United Nations said it had not been able to confirm the information or the number of casualties due to a lack of communications in the region. He called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and full humanitarian access.

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Last Friday, an airstrike left 56 dead and 30 injured, including children, in a camp for internally displaced people elsewhere in Tigray.

US President Joe Biden on Monday expressed concern to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed about the civilian casualties and suffering caused by the airstrikes.

Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not respond to a request for comment on Mai Tsebri’s strike.

Military spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane referred Reuters to Legesse.

The government has previously denied targeting civilians in the 14-month conflict, which pits federal forces in Abiy and their Eritrean-backed regional allies against rebel forces from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF).

Abiy’s appointment as Prime Minister in 2018 ended the TPLF’s 27-year domination of Ethiopia’s central government. But the party remained in power in its home region of Tigray, where fighting erupted in November 2020.

Each side accuses the other. The TPLF accuses Abiy of centralizing power to the detriment of the regions, which it denies, while Abiy accuses the TPLF of seeking to return to power at the national level, which it rejects.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions displaced by the conflict. Hundreds of thousands of people face conditions bordering on famine.

Before the last two strikes, at least 146 people had been killed and 213 injured in airstrikes in Tigray since October 18, according to a document prepared by aid agencies and shared with Reuters last week.

Meanwhile, the government released some jailed opposition leaders last Friday, including several TPLF figures, and said it would engage in dialogue with political opponents to promote reconciliation.

During a briefing in Washington on Tuesday, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric reiterated the Secretary-General’s calls for an end to the fighting in Tigray and “for all parties to respect their obligations in under international humanitarian law ”.

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