(Following is a translation of a report by the BBC Amharic about the attacks in the Amhara region carried out by the TPLF last month, published on the news website on October 13, 2022. The text was translated from the original text, Amharic into English by Ismaël MOUSSA. )
Tigray rebel forces have committed arbitrary killings and serious human rights violations in Kobo woreda in North Wollo Zone, Amhara region, during their latest occupation of the area during the whole month of September, residents said.
The BBC Amharic spoke with more than a dozen witnesses who were in Kobo during the killings who said that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters carried out murders, rapes, tortures, and robberies over a period of more than a month when the area was under their control.
According to the residents, when the TPLF forces entered the town of Kobo, they harassed civilians and stole properties they believed belonged to the allies of the government, and took them away to the Tigray region. They separated women and girls who they thought were families of government supporters and took them to the forest where they raped them, according to the witnesses.
One man said that his brother who was working in agriculture was killed by Tigrayan fighters while he was fleeing the renewed conflict in the area. “They killed my elder brother and his friend on the roadside. We heard the news from the local people who buried their bodies.”
The Raya Kobo area, bordering the Tigray region, is one of the most heavily fought areas when fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and Tigrayan rebels erupted in late August. Tigrayan forces captured the area following fierce fighting that took place on this front.
Heavy fighting between federal forces and rebels is continuing in different places, and although the Tigray forces left Kobo a week ago, they accuse the town and its residents of causing damage.
The BBC’s attempts to get local authorities to give further information were unsuccessful. The TPLF leaders didn’t respond to questions about the claims of killings. In the past have denied they have killed civilians and committed wide-scale abuses in the areas they controlled and asked for an independent investigation.
As this was the second time Kobo town fell under the control of TPLF fighters, many people fled to other surrounding villages seeking refuge while many others decided to stay there.
Alemu Tesema said he was in Robit town, 17 kilometers south of Kobo, on August 27 when Tigrayan rebel forces captured the town. “They have killed dozens of civilians and they harassed many of us. On that day, they gathered men, in particular, kept us kneeling on the ground for a long time, and then released us.”
Although Alemu was finally released after many hours of abuse and public humiliation, he said they came at night to his place. “They knocked on the door; it was about 10 o’clock at night. Realizing that they were coming to kill me, I leaped out of the window. From there, I walked through the forest and walked through the night without stopping, and the next day I managed to reach Woldia”
Alemu said while he was in Robit, many of his friends and peaceful residents were dragged out of their homes and killed by TPLF soldiers. He said at least 18 people were killed in the town, most of whom he identified by name.
He said that those killed were civilians who were not taking part in military operations and that the TPLF militants targeted them to exact revenge as they said civilians also attacked them last year.
Alemu said that more than 15 innocent civilians were also killed in Aradum, a small town not far from Robit.
A mother told the BBC that after Tigray forces had taken over the Raya Kobo area, many residents—especially the men—fled to nearby towns by whatever means they could. The mother whose two sons had gone to Woldia said that due to this, many hectares of crops could be unharvested, resulting in considerable damages.