A spokesman for Tigrayan forces said Saturday that an airstrike by the Ethiopian government killed at least 56 civilians in the country's embattled northern region.
Reports of the airstrike at the camp in Dedebit, in northwestern Tigray, came a day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed issued a message of reconciliation on Orthodox Christmas.
What we know about the strike
"Another callous drone attack by Abiy Ahmed in an IDP [internally displaced persons] camp in Dedebit has claimed the lives of 56 innocent civilians so far," Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), said on Twitter.
The report could not be identified independently as access to Tigray is restricted, and the region remains under a communications blackout.
But Reuters news agency quoted aid workers as saying the strike in the town near the border with Eritrea took place late on Friday night.
A senior official told the AFP news agency that the hospital in the town where victims were taken reported 55 people dead and 126 injured.
There was no immediate comment on the strike from the government. Ethiopia has previously denied targeting civilians in the 14-month conflict with Tigrayan fighters.
Conflict continues after Christmas amnesty
On Friday, the government freed opposition leaders from several ethnic groups — including some TPLF leaders.
But the TPLF has remained skeptical of Abiy's call for national reconciliation.
"His daily routine of denying medication to helpless children and of sending drones targeting civilians flies in the face of his self-righteous claims," TPLF spokesman Getachew said Friday.
The European Union on Saturday welcomed the reconciliatory move but raised concern over the ongoing conflict.
"All parties must seize the moment to swiftly end the conflict and enter into dialogue," the bloc's foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said in a statement.
Amid international pressure for negotiations, Ethiopian lawmakers last month approved a bill to establish a commission for national dialogue. But the commission excludes TPLF leaders.
In late December, the conflict seemed to shift as the TPLF fighters withdrew back into Tigray after approaching the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Civilians caught in the conflict
Last month, the UN's humanitarian agency said airstrikes on Tigray between December 19 and 24 caused "mass civilian casualties."
Earlier this week, three Eritrean refugees, including two children, were killed in an airstrike on a camp in Tigray, according to the UN refugee agency.
Tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the conflict that started in November 2020.
The TPLF, which once ruled the country, has accused the government of blocking aid to the Tigray region. The government has denied the allegation.
fb/wd (AFP, AP, Reuters)