‘Staff witnessed army killings in Tigray’

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff say they witnessed the extrajudicial killing of four civilians by Ethiopian soldiers in Tigray earlier this week.

An MSF team and two public minibuses were stopped by soldiers in the aftermath of an apparent ambush on an army convoy on a main road on Tuesday.

The passengers had to leave the buses; the four men were separated from women and shot, MSF says.

Officials say the medical aid charity’s allegations will be investigated.

“No person, including serving soldiers, is above the law,” Ethiopia’s embassy in London told the BBC.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia erupted in November when the government launched an offensive to oust the region’s ruling party from power after its fighters captured federal military bases in Tigray.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had had a massive fall-out with Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, over the future of Ethiopia’s ethnically based federal system and its role in government.

Mr Abiy declared that the conflict was over at the end of November, but fighting is continuing in parts of the region, with reports that thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes.

“We are horrified by the continued violence in Tigray,” MSF said in a statement about the killings its team had witnessed.

“This horrific event further underscores the need for the protection of civilians during this ongoing conflict, and for armed groups to respect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including medical aid.”

The killings took place on the road between the regional capital, Mekelle, and the city of Adigrat, MSF says.

Its three staff members were travelling in a clearly marked MSF vehicle when they encountered military vehicles that were on fire.

It appeared to be the aftermath of an ambush of a military convoy by an armed group.

The MSF vehicle was stopped, along with the two buses whose passengers were ordered to disembark.

The women were allowed to walk away and shortly after at least four men were shot. Their bodies could be seen on the side of the road, the charity says.

The MSF team was allowed to leave, but was then stopped again by soldiers who pulled out their driver, beat him with the back of a gun and threatened to kill him. -BBC

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