Witnesses: Airstrike in Ethiopia’s Tigray kills more than 50

Jun 22, 2021, 3:49 PM | Updated: Jun 23, 2021, 11:00 pm

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An airstrike hit a busy market in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray village of Togoga on Tuesday and killed at least 51 people, according to health workers who said soldiers blocked medical teams from traveling to the scene.

An official with Tigray’s health bureau told The Associated Press that more than 100 other people were wounded, more than 50 seriously, and at least 33 people were still missing. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns about retaliation.

The alleged airstrike comes amid some of the fiercest fighting in the Tigray region since the conflict began in November as Ethiopian forces supported by those from neighboring Eritrea pursue Tigray’s former leaders. A military spokesman and the spokeswoman for Ethiopia’s prime minister, Billene Seyoum, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wounded patients being treated at Ayder hospital in the regional capital, Mekele, told doctors and a nurse that a plane dropped a bomb on Togoga’s marketplace. The patients included a 2-year-old child with “abdominal trauma” and a 6-year-old, the nurse said. An ambulance carrying a wounded baby to Mekele, almost 60 kilometers (37 miles) away by road, was blocked for two hours and the baby died on the way, the nurse added, speaking on condition of anonymity because of concerns about retaliation.

Hailu Kebede, foreign affairs head for the Salsay Woyane Tigray opposition party and who comes from Togoga, told the AP that one fleeing witness to the attack had counted more than 30 bodies in the remote village that’s linked to Mekele in part by challenging stretches of dirt roads.

“It was horrific,” said a staffer with an international aid group who told the AP he had spoken with a colleague and others at the scene. “We don’t know if the jets were coming from Ethiopia or Eritrea. They are still looking for bodies by hand.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a convoy of ambulances attempting to reach Togoga, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Mekele, was turned back by soldiers near Tukul, the health workers said. Several more ambulances were turned back later in the day and on Wednesday morning, but one group of medical workers reached the site on Tuesday evening via a different route.

“We have been asking, but until now we didn’t get permission to go, so we don’t know how many people are dead,” said one of the doctors in Mekele.

Another doctor said the Red Cross ambulance he was traveling in on Tuesday while trying to reach the scene was shot at twice by Ethiopian soldiers, who held his team for 45 minutes before ordering them back to Mekele.

“We are not allowed to go,” he said. “They told us whoever goes, they are helping the troops of the TPLF.”

The TPLF refers to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which governed Tigray until it was ousted by a federal government offensive in November. The subsequent fighting has killed thousands and forced more than 2 million people from their homes.

More than 25 of the wounded finally reached Ayder hospital later on Wednesday, a day after the airstrike, the regional health official said.

While the United Nations has said all sides have been accused of abuses in the Tigray conflict, Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have been repeatedly accused by witnesses of looting and destroying health centers across the Tigray region and denying civilians access to care.

The European Union “strongly condemns the deliberate targeting of civilians” in Togoga, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Wednesday, calling it the latest in a “horrific series” of abuses committed in Tigray. He again called for an immediate cease-fire and urged the international community “to wake up and take action.”

This month, humanitarian agencies warned that 350,00 people in Tigray are facing famine. Aid workers have said they have been repeatedly denied access to several parts of the region by soldiers.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says it has nearly defeated the rebels. But forces loyal to the TPLF recently announced an offensive in parts of Tigray and have claimed a string of victories.

On Wednesday one of the former Tigray leaders, Getachew Reda, asserted that Tigray forces had shot down a C-130 transport plane carrying explosives, military officers and “Eritrean camouflage uniforms.” The claim could not immediately be verified.

A resident in Adigrat, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Mekele, said a group of Tigrayan fighters briefly entered the town on Tuesday, although he said it had since been retaken by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. He said federal police had since been seen beating people in the center of the town.

“Everybody is staying at home, there is no movement in the town,” he said.

Renewed fighting was also reported in Edaga Hamus and Wukro, two towns that sit on the main road to Mekele.

The reports came as Ethiopia held federal and regional elections on Monday. The vote was peaceful in most parts of the country, although there was no voting in Tigray.

The vote was delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, heightening tensions between the federal government and the TPLF, which went ahead with its own regional election in September.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

This Week: US retail sales, home sales, Deere & Co. earns

A look at some of the key business events and economic indicators upcoming this week: SIZING UP RETAIL SALES The Commerce Department serves up its monthly tally of U.S. retail sales Tuesday. Economists predict sales at restaurants, shops and other retailers rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8% in April from the previous month. That would match […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Attorney Michael Sussmann leaves federal court in Washington, April 27, 2022. A federal tria...
Associated Press

Lawyer charged with lying to FBI in Russia probe faces trial

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal trial begins Monday for a lawyer for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign who is accused of lying to the FBI as it investigated potential ties between Donald Trump and Russia in 2016. The case against Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity attorney who represented the Clinton campaign in 2016, is the first […]
22 hours ago
Mehmet Oz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, meets with attendees during a vi...
Associated Press

2022 midterms: What to watch as 5 states hold primaries

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s winning streak in U.S. Senate primaries is on the line Tuesday as voters in five states cast their ballots in midterm elections. Trump made bold endorsements in backing celebrity heart surgeon Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina. The once little-known Budd […]
22 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to O'Connor Farms, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Kan...
Associated Press

Biden’s leadership of Democrats faces test in next primaries

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In his telling, President Joe Biden’s political philosophy is rooted in Pennsylvania, where the son of Scranton grew up watching families struggle to make ends meet. But as Democrats in the president’s home state choose a nominee on Tuesday for a critical U.S. Senate seat, the moderate candidate long viewed as an […]
22 hours ago
Christian Orthodox worshippers attend a service at Archangel Saint Michael monastery, in Odesa, Ukr...
Associated Press

Russian war effort runs into diplomatic, military hurdles

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — With its military bogged down in a grinding conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russia also lost diplomatic ground over the weekend as two more European nations moved closer to joining NATO. Finland announced Sunday that it was seeking to join the alliance, saying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly three months ago had […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: May 16, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends

Today in History Today is Monday, May 16, the 136th day of 2022. There are 229 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On May 16, 1943, the nearly month-long Warsaw Ghetto Uprising came to an end as German forces crushed the Jewish resistance and blew up the Great Synagogue. On this date: […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Witnesses: Airstrike in Ethiopia’s Tigray kills more than 50