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The Ethiopian leader says atrocities reported in the Tigray war

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Reports indicate the atrocities were committed in the Tigray region, Abiy said in a speech Tuesday to lawmakers in the capital, Addis Ababa.

War is a bad thing, he said, speaking the local Amharic language. We know the devastation this war has caused. He said soldiers who raped women or committed other war crimes would be held accountable, although he cited exaggerated propaganda by the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, the once dominant party whose leaders challenged Abiys legitimacy after the election was postponed. past.

Commenting on the reported presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia, Abiy said they crossed the border and moved across the Tigray, causing damage to our people … We do not accept it.

He suggested that Eritrean soldiers are not there with his blessing. The argument the Eritrean government puts forward for this is that this is a matter of national security because Ethiopian troops are pursuing forces (Tigrayan) in other countries, so they want to keep border areas under control, he said. But they have told us they have no readiness to stay as long as we control the trenches along the border.

Abiy spoke as concern continues to grow about the humanitarian situation in the war-torn region that is home to 6 million Ethiopians and more than 110 million people.

The United States has characterized some abuses in the Tigray war as ethnic cleansing, accusations leveled by the Ethiopian authorities as unfounded. He has also urged Eritrean troops, who are fighting alongside Ethiopian government forces, to withdraw from Tigray.

The Ethiopian prime minister, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to make peace with Eritrea, faces pressure to end the conflict in Tigray, as well as to launch an international investigation into war crimes allegations. , ideally led by the United Nations. Critics of the government say an ongoing federal investigation is simply not enough because the government cannot effectively investigate itself.

Rupert Colville, a Geneva spokeswoman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, told the Associated Press last week that the Ethiopian Commission on Human Rights had asked to participate with its office in an investigation common to allegations of serious human rights violations by all parties in Tigray

Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against Tigray residents are detailed in reports by The Associated Press and Amnesty International.

But Abiy said in Tuesday’s speech, which included answering questions from lawmakers, that loyal fighters of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front had carried out a massacre in the town of Mai Kadra. But it is not getting the attention it deserves, he said of that massacre, describing it as the worst in the conflict.

The Tigray conflict began in November, when Abiy sent government troops to the region following an attack there on federal military facilities. The federal army is now hunting down fugitive regional leaders who are said to have retreated to the Tigrays in remote mountainous areas.

Abiy accused Tigrays leaders of slamming a war narrative as the area faced challenges such as a devastating locust invasion and the COVID-19 pandemic. That was wrong and premature arrogance, he said, according to a transcript of his comments posted on Twitter by the prime ministers’ office.

President Joe Biden last week sent Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia to express the administrations’ grave concerns about the growing humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in Tigray, and the risk of wider instability in the Horn of Africa. Details of Coons’ weekend visit have not been released.

Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people could starve to death in Tigray. Fighting erupted on the eve of the harvest in the predominantly agricultural region and sent an untold number of people fleeing their homes. Witnesses described widespread looting by Eritrean soldiers as well as the burning of crops.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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