Scores Of Ethiopians Stabbed Or Hacked To Death Amid Escalating Tension Between Opposing Political Groups In The Country
Amnesty International used its Crisis Evidence Lab to digitally verify graphic photographs and videos of dead bodies.
November 14, 2020 at 4:04 pm
Disturbing details of mass killings are being reported in the northern region of Ethiopia after an ongoing feud between opposing political groups escalated to violence in recent days. While much of the details about the violence has been difficult to confirm due to a communication blackout in the area, Amnesty International said dozens of people, potentially hundreds, were stabbed or hacked to death on Monday in the town of Mai-Kadra in the Tigray region.
According to CBS News, tensions escalated last week when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an attack on local officials in Tigray, accusing them of attacking a military base in the region. Civilians are now caught up in the ongoing violence between the federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front.
With roads blocked in the area and journalists unable to get access, Amnesty International used its Crisis Evidence Lab to digitally verify graphic photographs and videos of dead bodies in Mai-Kadra.
"We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive. This is a horrific tragedy whose true extent only time will tell as communication in Tigray remains shut down," Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's director for East and Southern Africa, said in a statement.
The verified images, along with eyewitness accounts, indicate that most of the dead bodies were found in the town's center, along a road leading to the neighboring town of Humera. Witnesses said there were no signs of gunshot injuries, but gaping wounds were seen in the victims, appearing to have been attacked by knives and machetes.
"Those wounded told me they were attacked with machetes, axes and knives. You can also tell from the wounds that those who died were attacked by sharp objects. It is horrible and I am really sad that I witnessed this in my life," one unidentified witness told the organization.
Although Amnesty International has not identified who is responsible for the mass killings, witnesses are pointing to the Tigray People's Liberation Front, which allegedly carried out the attack on civilians in retaliation to the federal government's action.
A civilian who entered Mai-Kadra after it was retaken by government forces following the mass killings described the gruesome details.
"When we entered, we saw a lot of dead bodies, soaked in blood, on the streets and rental dormitories frequented by seasonal workers. The view was really debasing, and I am still in shock struggling to cope with the experience," the unidentified witness told Amnesty International.
According to the Associated Press, the TPLF has denied reports of mass killings in Mai-Kadra. Tigray regional president Debretsion Gebremichael said the allegations are being repeated by the prime minister and “being proliferated with the intent to incite hatred toward (ethnic) Tigrayans in Ethiopia.”
However, the Tigray regional government has taken responsibility for firing rockets at two airports in the neighboring Amhara region on Friday, saying the strikes will continue “unless the attacks against us stop,” the AP reported.