Amnesty International on Thursday confirmed reports of a "massacre" of civilians in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region. "Scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra town in the South West Zone of Ethiopia’s Tigray Region on the night of November 9," the rights group said in a report. Citing witnesses interviewed and "verified" photo, video and satellite imagery, the human rights group said bodies had been "strewn" across the town. Fighting between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) party and the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been ongoing for a week now. Declining to identify who was responsible, Amnesty did however cite witnesses who alleged that Tigray special police members had used weapons such as knives and machetes, after a local defeat by Ethiopian EDF federal forces.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a Facebook message Thursday claimed that federal forces had "liberated" the western part of Tigray, a mountainous region comprising six zones and a population of 5 million. Tigray’s Debretsion Gebremichael called on the population to defend itself. Tigray TV claimed jets had bombed the Tekese hydroelectric dam, a structure completed in 2009 with Chinese involvement and set in a deep gorge.
Abiy ordered military operations on November 4, accusing the TPLF of attacking federal camps, a claim denied by the party.
United Nations officials on Thursday said Ethiopia, whose capital hosts African Union headquarters, was being urged to enable "immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access to conflict-hit Tigray. But access to the region is restricted, explains journalist Samuel Getachew, who is based in the capital Addis Ababa. "We believe there are more killings because of [what] the people that have moved to Sudan are telling us. And it’s just a horrifying incident with too many people dying and many people being affected," he told DW on Friday. "Organizations are complaining they can’t even transport basic food and all kinds of stuff. So the impact without us verifying it, we can only guess it’s even worse than assumed." Inside Tigray, more than 2 million residents are dependent on humanitarian aid, estimates the UN. Some 11,000 Ethiopians have already sought refuge in neighboring Sudan. Up to 100,000 were expected in Sudan, said the UN refugee agency. Across Ethiopia as a whole, some 15 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid, amid a total population of 112 million.
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