Calls For Inquiry As Dozens Killed, Injured, In Ethiopia Market Airstrike
Faizan Hashmi 1 month ago Thu 24th June 2021 | 12:40 AM
Mekele, Ethiopia, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 24th Jun, 2021 ) :An airstrike on a busy market killed or wounded dozens in Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region, survivors and emergency workers said Wednesday, as a seven-month-old conflict surged again.
Families rushed to a hospital in the regional capital Mekele as the casualties, including many children, arrived from nearby Togoga, where witnesses and medical personnel said a busy marketplace had been bombed Tuesday.
The UN called for an urgent investigation into the strike, which has killed and wounded an as-yet undetermined number of people.
The airstrike happened as reports emerged of rebel advances in some parts of the northern region, where famine has been reported and atrocities documented.
"I saw with my eyes the bodies of 58 people dead," said 47-year-old Negash Araya, who estimated 200 others were wounded when bombs fell around midday on Togoga, a market town some 30 kilometres (18 miles) northwest of Mekele.
She described seeing many dead and injured: "We were stepping on them and in their blood." Relatives of one man who was seriously wounded and was being treated at a Mekele hospital said he had witnessed two explosions, both fired from aircraft.
AFP could not independently verify these accounts.
Among those rushed into Ayder Referral Hospital was Genet Tsegay, a 12-year-old girl, moaning in pain, her right hand mangled from the blast.
Her mother, Tsigabu Gebretinsae, said the explosion killed her 22-year-old son -- but she did not have time to mourn with her daughter's life in the balance.
"I lost one child. Now, I cannot lose another," the 45-year-old mother of six told AFP.
She said many people in Togoga were killed: "There are still lots of people under the ruins," she said.
An emergency worker at the hospital said soldiers had prevented some of the wounded from leaving Togoga: "They risk death," he said.
"Attacks directed against civilians and indiscriminate attacks are prohibited," said acting assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Ramesh Rajasingham.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said if confirmed, the blocking of ambulances could amount to a violation of international law.
This bombing "adds to the appalling series of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights" in Tigray, he said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which helped bring the wounded to Mekele, said it was vital that victims of conflict receive unimpeded the life-saving they need.
The alliance against Tigray's renegade leadership followed peace overtures towards Eritrea made by Abiy that ended a long cold war between the neighbours and earned Abiy the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
In recent days, as votes were cast and counted across much of the vast nation of 110 million people, there were reports of rebel advances in Tigray.
The fighting in Tigray -- and its impact on civilians -- has damaged Abiy's standing as a peacemaker and reformer, but his administration has remained defiant in the face of international criticism.
On Monday, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet expressed alarm at ongoing atrocities in the region, including sexual violence and extrajudicial killings.