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Tigrayan rebels accuse Ethiopia of killing civilians in drone attack

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A spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TLPF) on Saturday accused the Ethiopian government of being responsible for the deaths of dozens of civilians in a displaced person’s camp in the north of the country during an attack drone.

New tensions in Ethiopia, as the government showed signs of opening up to “national reconciliation”. The rebels in Tigray accused the government on Saturday (January 8) of having killed dozens of people in a camp for displaced people in the north of the country at war.

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said on Twitter on Saturday that a drone attack on an internally displaced persons camp “claimed the lives of 56 innocent civilians,” according to a provisional death toll in the small town of Dedebit, in the north-west of Tigray.

These allegations could not be independently verified and Ethiopian government officials have yet to respond to AFP’s requests. Access to Tigray is restricted and communications remain cut off in the region.

However, an official at the main hospital in Mekele, the capital of Tigray, told AFP that the hospital in the town of Shire, where the victims were evacuated, had reported 55 dead and 126 injured.

Three other people were killed in an airstrike on a refugee camp in the region, the UN reported this week.

Amnesty

Saturday was however also marked by the release of several personalities of the Ethiopian opposition, after an unexpected amnesty decreed the day before by the government to important political detainees, including leaders of the Tigrayan party.

The surprise announcement came after a call for “national reconciliation” launched Friday on the occasion of the celebration of Orthodox Christmas by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, whose country has been torn for 14 months by a conflict between the federal government and the rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

TPLF fighters withdrew at the end of December in their stronghold in the northernmost region of Tigray in the face of a military offensive by government forces, which regained control of a series of strategic towns.

Clashes have been on a lull since the TPLF retired, although rebels accuse the government of continuing to carry out deadly drone strikes on Tigray.

Paving the way for “national reconciliation”

According to the government, the purpose of the amnesty is “to pave the way for a lasting solution to Ethiopia’s problems.” “The key to lasting unity is dialogue,” added his statement, listing the names of several opposition leaders, but also important members of the TPLF.

It was not clear whether the government offered negotiations with the TPLF, the party which de facto ruled Ethiopia for three decades until Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018, but which is now considered a “terrorist” group by Addis Ababa.

The amnesty has been hailed by the United Nations and the African Union, spearheads of international efforts to end the conflict. The head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called it “an important gesture of appeasing the political situation”, expressing the hope that it paves the way for a “truly inclusive” national dialogue. .

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he remained “actively engaged in helping Ethiopia” to “restore peace and stability”.

With AFP

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