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Ethiopia: Tigray drone attack reportedly kills 17 civilians

January 11, 2022

Witnesses say dozens more were injured in the bombing of a flour mill in a Tigrayan town. The incident comes amid escalating violence as Ethiopian government forces pursue Tigrayan fighters.

Tigrayan expats in the US carrying placards and flags protesting the conflict in Tigray
Turkey, Iran and the UAE are supplying Ethiopia with drones, helping PM Abiy shift the balance of power in the conflict Image: Alex Brandon/AP/picture alliance

A drone strike on a flour mill in the northwestern Ethiopian town of May Tsebri, in the Tigray region, reportedly killed 17 people on Monday and injured dozens more, according to eyewitnesses.

"A witness told me that the drones came and hovered a bit before dropping bombs. Then people panicked, but, after a few minutes, everyone heard huge shouting and they went to the scene," a local aid worker told the AFP news agency. The victims were reportedly mostly women. 

Monday's bombings came just days after a similar attack on a camp for displaced persons in Dedebit killed 59 and injured nearly 140 on Friday.

On Tuesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that the body had been unable to independently confirm the attack as access to the region is blocked and communications remain under blackout.

Ethiopian government representatives in Addis Ababa say they have no information on the incident.

Humanitarian crisis unfolds in Ethiopia

Peace laureate Abiy under pressure to find political solution

The attack also occurred on the same day that US President Joe Biden called Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to voice concern about the escalating violencein a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions since it began in November 2020, when clashes started between government forces and fighters from the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The TPLF had dominated Ethiopia's central government for nearly 30 years before Abiy came to power in 2018.

Abiy, a Nobel Peace laureate, has come under criticism for his handling of the situation and more recently as government and allied forces supported by neighboring Eritrea have pounded rebel strongholds despite promises given to the TPLF after they retreated to the region in December.

On a call that Abiy described as "candid," the White House said Biden and the prime minister "discussed ways to accelerate dialogue toward a negotiated cease-fire, the urgency of improving humanitarian access across Ethiopia, and the need to address the human rights concerns of all affected Ethiopians, including concerns about detentions of Ethiopians under the state of emergency."

js/wmr (AFP. AP)