Tigray rebels claim dozens killed in drone strike on IDP camp

AFP , Saturday 8 Jan 2022

Tigrayan rebels claimed Saturday that dozens of people had been killed in a drone strike on a camp for people displaced by the war in northern Ethiopia.

Tigray forces
File Photo: Tigray forces ride in a truck in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on June 29. AP

Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), said on Twitter that an attack on the camp in the small town of Dedebit in northwestern Tigray "has claimed the lives of 56 innocent civilians so far".

The report could not be independently verified and there was no immediate response to requests for comment from Ethiopian government officials.

However, a senior official at the main hospital in Tigray's capital Mekele told AFP that the hospital in the town of Shire where the victims were taken had reported 55 people dead and 126 injured.

Getachew did not say when the reported strike occurred.

The TPLF has been fighting forces loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since November 2020 in a brutal conflict that has killed thousands of people and created a deep humanitarian crisis.

TPLF fighters withdrew to their stronghold in Tigray at the end of December in the face of a military offensive that saw government forces retake a string of strategic towns.

There has been something of a lull in fighting since the TPLF retreat, although the rebels accuse the government of continuing to carry out deadly drone attacks on Tigray, the northernmost region of Ethiopia.

The UN reported this week that three Eritrean refugees including two children had been killed in an air strike on a refugee camp in Tigray on Wednesday.

The region is under what the United Nations has called a de facto blockade that is preventing desperately needed supplies from reaching its six million people.

Access to Tigray is restricted and the region remains under a communications blackout, making it difficult to verify battlefield claims.

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