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Tigray fighters killed civilians, raped girls: report

February 16, 2022

A report by the rights group shines light on the extent of brutality perpetrated by Tigray fighters last year, with details about how women were gang raped inside their homes, including girls as young as 14 years old.

A Tigrayan refugee rape victim who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray sits for a portrait in eastern Sudan near the Sudan-Ethiopia border, on March 20, 2021.
Horrific instances of rape have repeatedly come up in numerous rights reportsImage: Nariman El-Mofty/AP/picture allianc

The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) deliberately killed dozens of people and gang raped women and girls in two towns in northern Ethiopia's Amhara region, Amnesty International said in a report published on Wednesday.

The rights group interviewed several people in two towns — Kobo and Chenna — who spoke of the brutal violence civilians faced in late August and September, shortly after Tigray fighters took control of the areas in July last year.

Summary executions in Kobo

Tigray fighters deliberately killed unarmed civilians, seemingly in revenge for losses among their ranks at the hand of Amhara militias.

Amnesty interviewed 27 people in the Kobo region, some of whom said Tigray fighters killed relatives and family members outside their homes. Others said they found bodies of local residents who had been killed execution-style — shot in the head or back.

One resident even described how people who had been shot in the head could not be recognized because their heads were so badly dismembered.

Horrific sexual abuse in Chenna

TPLF fighters around Chenna, a village in the Amhara region, raped dozens of women, often in their own homes. Fighters forced women to provide food and cook for them, according to the report.

Amnesty interviewed around 30 rape survivors in Chenna, some of whom said they were gang raped in front of their children. Amnesty also detailed horrific instances of fighters raping underage girls, some as young as 14 years old.

Ethiopia: Tigray's neighbors are on war footing

The report provided details of conversations with the survivors, with a 14-year old girl telling the rights group that she was raped in the courtyard, while her mother was raped inside the house.

She said her mother has been depressed since, and they don't talk about what happened.

"It is impossible," the young girl told Amnesty International. 

Ethiopia's current state of affairs

The report is the latest example to account the extent of brutality that occurred during the war that broke out between Ethiopian government soldiers and militants in the Tigray region in 2020.

In December 2021, TPLF fighters said they were withdrawing from a number of areas in Ethiopia and returning to Tigray, after the Ethiopian military made a number of territorial gains.

Just yesterday, the Ethiopian government said it was lifting the wartime state of emergency that was first imposed last November, after Tigray fighters seized a number of major towns.

The lifting of the state of emergency signals that the bloody conflict may be easing.

Atrocities committed may amount to 'war crimes'

A joint investigation by the United Nations and Ethiopia released last November said all parties, including Ethiopian soldiers, committed violations that may amount to war crimes.

The conflict has killed thousands of civilians, forced more than 2.5 million people to flee their homes, and left nearly 400,000 vulnerable to famine.

rm/jsi (Reuters, AFP)