Tigrayan rebels accuse government of killing dozens of civilians

The rebels of Tigray accused Ethiopia on Saturday of having killed dozens of people in a camp for displaced people in the north of the country at war, at a time when the government showed signs of opening up in favor of a “national reconciliation».

Several Ethiopian opposition figures were released on Saturday after an unexpected amnesty decreed by the government the day before to important political detainees, including leaders of the Tigrayan party. The surprise announcement of the amnesty came after a call to “national reconciliation»Launched Friday on the occasion of the celebration of Orthodox Christmas by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, whose country has been torn for 14 months by a conflict between the federal government and the rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

But this Saturday, TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda said on Twitter that a drone attack on an IDP camp “claimed the lives of 56 innocent civilians», According to a provisional report, in the small town of Dedebit, in the north-west of Tigray. These allegations could not be independently verified and Ethiopian government officials have yet to respond to AFP’s requests. Access to Tigray is restricted and communications remain cut off in the region.

«Serpents»

However, an official at the main hospital in Mekele, the capital of Tigray, told AFP that the hospital in the town of Shire, where the victims were evacuated, had reported 55 dead and 126 injured. Getachew Reda did not say when the attack took place. Three other people were killed in an airstrike on a refugee camp in the region, the UN reported this week.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called on Friday to “unity“. But on Saturday he again lambasted the “foreign and internal enemies“, Qualifying the TPLF as”serpents“. According to the government, the objective of the amnesty is “to pave the way for a lasting solution to Ethiopia’s problems». «The key to lasting unity is dialogue», Adds his press release, which lists the names of several opposition leaders, but also important members of the TPLF.

«Important gesture»

It was not possible to know whether the government had offered negotiations to the TPLF, the party which effectively ruled Ethiopia for three decades until Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018, and now considered a group “terroristBy Addis Ababa. The amnesty has been hailed by the United Nations and the African Union, spearheads of international efforts to end the conflict.

TPLF fighters withdrew at the end of December in their stronghold in the northernmost region of Tigray in the face of a military offensive by government forces, which regained control of a series of strategic towns. Clashes have been on a lull since the TPLF retired, although rebels accuse the government of continuing to carry out deadly drone strikes on Tigray.

The TPLF has taken up arms since Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to Tigray in November 2020 to remove the regional authorities – from the TPLF – who were contesting his authority and whom he accused of having attacked military bases. A TPLF counter-offensive enabled the rebels to reconquer most of the region at the end of June 2021 and to advance in those neighboring Amhara and Afar. They said in November that they had arrived 200 km from Addis Ababa. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives. The Tigray, subject according to the UN to a “de facto blockade»Humanitarian aid, lack of food and medicine.

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