Atrocities committed in Tigray war, Ethiopian government says

Fighting continues in Tigray region as government looks to hunt down fugitive leaders

A youngster arranges books at a looted classroom at Ksanet Junior Secondary School, which was shelled as federal-aligned forces entered the city and looted allegedly by Eritrean forces, in Wukro, north of Mekele, on March 1, 2021. Every phase of the four-month-old conflict in Tigray has brought suffering to Wukro, a fast-growing transport hub once best-known for its religious and archaeological sites. 
Ahead of federal forces' arrival in late November 2020, heavy shelling levelled homes and businesses and sent plumes of dust and smoke rising above near-deserted streets. 
Since then the town has been heavily patrolled by soldiers, Eritreans at first, now mostly Ethiopians, whose abuses fuel a steady flow of civilian casualties and stoke anger with Nobel Peace Prize-winner Abiy. / AFP / EDUARDO SOTERAS

Ethiopia says atrocities have been reportedly committed in Tigray, the country’s northern region, where fighting persists as government troops hunt down its fugitive leaders.

“Reports indicate that atrocities have been committed in Tigray region,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in an address before lawmakers in the capital, Addis Ababa, Tuesday.

This is the first time Mr Abiy appears to acknowledge that serious crimes have been perpetrated in Tigray, home to six million people.

He said soldiers who raped women or committed other war crimes will be held responsible, even though he cited “propaganda of exaggeration” by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the once-dominant party whose leaders challenged Mr Abiy’s legitimacy after the postponement of elections last year.

The Tigray conflict began in November, when Mr Abiy sent government troops into the region after an attack there on federal military facilities. The federal army is now hunting the fugitive regional leaders.

Mr Abiy accused the embattled region’s leaders of drumming “a war narrative” while the area faced challenges such as a destructive invasion of locusts and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This was misplaced and untimely arrogance,” he said, according to a transcript of his comments posted on Twitter by the prime minister’s office.