A 24-hour killing spree in Mai-Kadra, a town in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, has left hundreds, if not thousands, of people dead. The attackers carried machetes and knives and hacked bodies to death in homes and on the streets. The stench of death remains heavy in the air as bodies remained in the streets for hours. Mass graves have been dug for victims of the violence. The conflict in the Tigray region that began on November 4th has resulted in the Ethiopian government restricting communication channels and refusing entrance to journalists or aid workers. Amnesty International researcher Fisseha Tekle has said that it is likely these recent attacks have not only occurred in Mai-Kadra, but also in neighbouring towns of Mekele and Dansha, reports The Toronto Star.
The two opponents in the conflict are the Ethiopian government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Tigray government. Neither acknowledge the legitimacy of the other and both are hiding behind the instability of the region to avoid blame for this most recent day of terror. It is not known who is responsible for the brutal killings; there are accounts asserting that Tigray officials were searching for Amhara, a minority ethnic group in the region, and targeting the violence towards them. However, there are also Ethiopian refugees in Sudan who are saying that it was Amhara citizens who were targeting Tigray citizens. The confusion of the violence only adds to tensions, anxieties, and ineffectiveness.
Humanitarian aid workers require entrance in to these sites of violence in order to properly assess what aspects of international law may be effective in response to the Ethiopian government. However, Ethiopian officials have declared this week that they do not need a “babysitter” and will be able to handle this domestic violence independently, reports The Toronto Star. In response to international questioning, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has suggested that the killers may be hiding among the refugees in Sudan and pushing stories that are damning to his government. He has not provided any evidence for this claim and maintains that no independent review of the event may occur.
The Tigray militant forces were pushed out of the region when the Prime Minister engaged the federal military in the region to calm tensions, and some assert the violence is a result of their frustrations. However, the Tigray leader told the AP that they are not capable of this type of violence, and that the federal forces are responsible for this killing. With neither side able to supply evidence for their claims, and refugees providing conflicting accounts, it is likely that both groups were targeted. Humanitarian workers need to be granted access to be able to thoroughly investigate what happened in Ethiopia, and address the needs of citizens that are not able to diminish the sounds and smell of death and despair.
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