Amid a months-long conflict in Ethiopia, an airstrike by government forces in a market on Tuesday (22) left at least 64 dead and 180 injured in Togoga, Tigray province.
The provisional investigation was prepared by the population and local leaders, who also accuse the Ethiopian army of preventing rescuers from accessing the region to transfer the wounded to a hospital in Mekele, capital of the province of north of the country. Until Thursday (24), 73 wounded had been transported to the medical center, and, according to witnesses, dozens of victims are still under the rubble.
The conflict began in November last year, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali announced a military offensive against the Popular Liberation Front (FLPT), the nationalist party that rules the Tigris region. He justified the measure by accusing opposing troops of attacking a government military base to steal weapons and other military equipment.
Since then, the province has been the scene of a series of armed clashes which, according to UN (United Nations) estimates, have already led 350,000 people to the brink of hunger and millions to flee their homes to other countries, notably Sudan. . . .
The Ethiopian military confirmed Tuesday’s attack, but said the operation targeted fighters linked to the Tiger authorities, a version contradicted by witnesses, for whom only civilians were in the market.
In a statement sent to the Ethiopian government on Thursday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the attack and urged the government to free access for first responders in the region. “Denying urgent medical care to victims in need is cruel and unacceptable,” he said in the document.
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the organization’s secretary general, Portugal’s António Guterres, was deeply upset. “We have requested access to the area to assess the situation and see how we can provide assistance. The situation in the area is very, very difficult.”
Pope Francis also expressed his concern over the armed clashes and called for brotherhood. “Ethnic differences and power struggles have become a system,” the pontiff said.
It is in this context that, on Monday (21), Ethiopians voted to elect new parliamentarians and regional leaders. The election was originally scheduled for August 2020, but has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left 4,292 people dead in the country until Wednesday (24), according to data from Johns University Hopkins.
The Prosperity Party, the legend of the current Prime Minister, is the favorite to win the most votes. Still, the figure of the Prime Minister has been called into question since the beginning of the conflicts in the Tigris, in particular because Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 with a speech against the war.
But the election, the results of which have not yet been released, is expected to continue over the next few months as 20% of the country’s electoral districts were unable to hold the vote due to factors such as violence or logistical problems. Residents of these regions are due to vote on September 6.
In Tigray province, where the most serious conflict continues, the ballot has also not taken place in the 38 electoral districts, and the national government has not yet communicated a new date.