An air raid in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has killed 56 people and injured 30, including children, in a camp for displaced people, two aid workers told Reuters news agency, citing local authorities and witness accounts.
The spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that has been fighting the central government, Getachew Reda, said in a tweet on Saturday, “Another callous drone attack by [Prime Minister] Abiy Ahmed in an IDP [internally displaced people] camp in Dedebit has claimed the lives of 56 innocent civilians so far.”
The attack in the town of Dedebit, in the northwest of the region near the border with Eritrea, occurred late on Friday night, said the aid workers, who asked not to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Military spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane and government spokesman Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum did not respond to a request for comment.
The government has previously denied targeting civilians in the 14-month conflict with rebellious Tigrayan forces.
Earlier on Friday, the government had freed several opposition leaders from prison and said it would begin dialogue with political opponents in order to foster reconciliation.
Both aid workers said the number of dead in Friday’s air raid was confirmed by the local authorities. The aid workers sent Reuters pictures they said they had taken of the wounded in hospital, who included many children.
One of the aid workers, who visited Shire Suhul General Hospital where the injured were brought for treatment, said the camp hosts many old women and children.
“They told me the bombs came at midnight. It was completely dark and they couldn’t escape,” the aid worker said.
One of the aid workers said one of the wounded in Friday’s raid, Asefa Gebrehaworia, 75, burst into tears as he recounted how his friend was killed. He was being treated for injuries to his left leg and hand.
Fighting had forced Asefa out of his home and now the air raid had destroyed the camp, where even though he was facing hunger, at least he had shelter, he told the aid worker. He had arrived in the camp for displaced people from the border town of Humera.
Before the latest attack, at least 146 people have been killed and 213 injured in air raids in Tigray since October 18, according to a document prepared by aid agencies and shared with Reuters this week.