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April 21, 2021
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AI alleges Eritrean troops massacred hundreds of civilians in Aksum

Amnesty International claims massacre by Eritrean troops in Aksum. Ethiopian Defense Force this week dismissed the claim that Eritrean troops were deployed in Tigray region of Ethiopia 

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Amnesty International on Thursday released a report on the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. It alleges that “Eritrean troops’ massacre of hundreds of Axum civilians may amount to crime against humanity.” 

According to the report, the massacre took place between November 20-29 2020. Regarding the circumstances of how the alleged massacre happened, Amnesty said that the troops opened fire in the streets and also conducted house to house raids.  Furthermore, it said that it “may amount to a crime against humanity.” 

Amnesty International’s claim is based on an interview with 41 survivors and witnesses, and “in-person interviews” with refugees in eastern Sudan who came recently. 

“They consistently described extrajudicial executions, indiscriminate shelling and widespread looting after Ethiopian and Eritrean troops led an offensive to take control of the city amid the conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in mid-November,” said Amnesty International.

Amnesty also cited what it called “Satellite imagery analysis by the organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab” to make claims of “indiscriminate shelling and mass looting, as well as identifies signs of new mass burials near two of the city’s churches.” 

Earlier this week, the Ethiopian Defense Force dismissed the claim that Eritrean troops were not in Tigray reiterating that Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) prepared Ethiopian Army uniforms as part of a plan to undertake massacre in the region.  

Amnesty International’s report came just a day after the office of Prime Minister released an update about the state of humanitarian assistance work  and human rights situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. In the update the Ethiopian government expressed “grave concern” about coordinated misinformation campaigns. 

Amnesty International reports have recently been seen as biased, and some Ethiopian activities see a reason for that. Fisseha Tekele, one of Amnesty’s researchers in East Africa, is said to have a partisan interest with TPLF so much so that it is very difficult to expect a neutral report. 

On Thursday, Ethiopia’s State of Emergency Task Force released an update about investigation works in Tigray regarding claims of human rights abuse, the Maikadra massacre and attack on the Ethiopian Defense Force – which triggered what the Ethiopian government called law enforcement operation.  It is said that international human rights experts have been working with Ethiopian Human Rights Commission during investigation in the region. According to the task force, Ethiopian government will lay charges against perpetrators of Maikada massacre and attack on the Ethiopian Defense force. 

While the statement made a point that sometimes unexpected things happen in a conflict zone, it did not say that there was a massacre by Eritrean troops in Aksum. 

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