Reports of violence against civilians continue to come out of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where the country’s prime minister ordered a military operation last week. With internet and phone services shut down in Tigray, most accounts are unconfirmed.
Civilians who fled to Sudan to avoid the bloodshed shared grim accounts of what they saw in Tigray with Reuters. Many have fled Tigray, over 7,000 refugees are in the Sudanese border town of al-Fashqa.
The refugees shared stories of government airstrikes, shootings, and killings by machete.
One witness said people from the Amhara region stormed a village and killed anyone who said they were Tigrayan. Amhara borders Tigray to the south, and its local government is said to be loyal to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Amnesty International said a massacre took place on November 9th in the town of Mai-Kadra in western Tigray, near the border with Sudan. According to Amnesty, possibly hundreds of civilians were stabbed and hacked to death. According to The Associated Press, most of the victims were ethnic Amharans, and it is not clear who the perpetrators were.
The US State Department’s top envoy for Africa denounced the massacre on Friday. “We condemn the massacre of civilians in Mai-Kadra and strongly urge immediate steps to de-escalate and end conflict throughout the Tigray region,” US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy wrote on Twitter.
Tensions between the TPLF and Abiy have been high since September when Tigray held local elections despite a federal mandate banning them due to coronavirus. The elections caused Ethiopia’s parliament to severe ties with the TPLF. The TPLF controlled much of the government until Abiy took office in 2018, and his reforms opened it up to other ethnic groups in the country.