At least 19 civilians killed, dozens injured in drone strikes in Ethiopia

“A witness told me that the drones came and hovered a bit before dropping bombs.

In another strike 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 against a camp in northwest Tigray for people displaced by the brutal 14-month conflict in Ethiopia.

It was not possible to verify the reports independently as access to Tigray is restricted and it remains subject to a communication failure.

An Ethiopian government spokeswoman said on Tuesday she had no information about the alleged strikes.

“The current hostilities”

Rebels from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) say government forces continue to carry out airstrikes despite retreating to their Tigray stronghold in December.

Their withdrawal followed a government offensive that had led to the reconquest of a series of strategic towns and raised hopes of a possible opening towards a ceasefire.

On Friday, the government announced an amnesty for several top TPLF officials and other high-level opposition leaders in what it called an attempt to pave the way for national dialogue and “unity.” .

Fighting between forces loyal to Abiy and the TPLF and their allies has left thousands dead and forced several million from their homes since their eruption in November 2020.

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

The strike reported on Monday came the same day US President Joe Biden raised concerns over the continuing violence in a phone call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Mr. Biden expressed concern that “the ongoing hostilities, including recent airstrikes, continue to claim civilian lives and suffering,” according to a White House statement.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, himself a Tigrayan, said on Twitter that he was “deeply concerned at reports of another drone strike in # Tigray, resulting in injuries and the death of too many civilians “.

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

Aid workers who spoke to AFP on Tuesday also said the attack on Dedebit IDP camp in northwest Tigray left 59 people dead, including one leaving 138 injured.

As a result of the strike, aid agencies suspended operations in the region, according to the UN emergency response agency OCHA.

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