Scores of civilians have been killed in Mai-Kadra in South-Western Tigray state, most of them, stabbed or hacked to death. The disclosure was made on Thursday by Amnesty International.
The International human body said the victims were stabbed or hacked to death on the night of November 9 according to an investigation carried out by its Crisis Evidence Lab, which has examined and digitally verified gruesome photographs and videos of bodies strewn across the town or being carried away on stretchers.
It confirmed the images were recent and using satellite imagery, geo-located them to Mai-Kadra in western Tigray state.
“We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive. This is a horrific tragedy whose true extent only time will tell as communication in Tigray remains shut down,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
Most of the dead bodies were found in the town centre, near the premises of a national commercial bank, and along a road that leads to the neighbouring Humera town, according to witnesses and verified images, Amnesty International said in a statement.
Witnesses said the bodies had gaping wounds that appear to have been inflicted by sharp weapons such as knives and machetes, reports which have been confirmed by an independent pathologist commissioned by Amnesty International. There were no signs of gunshot wounds.
It remained unclear who was responsible for the killings, but witnesses alleged that forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) were responsible for the mass killings, apparently after they suffered defeat from the federal EDF forces.
On November 4, 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the Ethiopian Defence Forces (EDF) to militarily engage with the Tigray Regional Paramilitary Police and militia loyal to the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) in what he stated was a response to multiple attacks by the Tigray security forces on the EDF North Command base in Mekelle and other military camps in Tigray Region.
Since the start of the conflict, there have been armed confrontations between federal forces (Federal Army, Amhara Region’s Special Force Police and Amhara local militia) on one side and the Tigray regional forces (Tigray Special Force Police and militia) on the other.
“There was a military operation by the EDF and Amhara Special Force against the Tigray Special Police and militia at a place called Lugdi during the daytime on November 9. After they defeated the Tigray forces, the EDF spent the night on the outskirts of Mai-Kadra town. When we entered, we saw a lot of dead bodies, soaked in blood, on the streets and rental dormitories frequented by seasonal workers. The view was really debasing, and I am still in shock struggling to cope with the experience,” a civilian who entered the town after it was retaken by EDF told Amnesty International.
Amnesty International said the government should restore communication to Tigray as an act of accountability and transparency for its military operations in the region, as well as ensure unfettered access to humanitarian organizations and human rights monitors.
Amnesty International will regardless continue to use all means available to document and expose violations by all parties to the conflict.”