Panafrican News Agency

US says Eritrean troops committing crimes against humanity in Ethiopia's Tigray region

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Eritrean troops in Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray have been engaged in looting, sexual violence and assaults on refugee camps in the region, the US Embassy in Eritrea said on Friday.

The embassy also called for an extensive investigation into crimes against humanity currently being committed by the Eritrean forces deployed there and their immediate pullout.

"The United States has asked the Eritrean government to withdraw its forces from Tigray immediately," the embassy said in a tweet circulated by the local media in Ethiopia.

"We have conveyed our grave concerns about credible reports of human rights abuses committed by Eritrean forces and other actors in Tigray."

The embassy said transparent and independent investigations were urgently required in Tigray to determine those responsible for the atrocities being committed there.

The Ethiopian military launched an operation in the country's northern tip in November 2020 after months of a political standoff between the Addis Ababa-based federal government and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF).

The TPLF which dominated Ethiopian People's Revolutionary and Democratic Front (EPRDF) that ruled the country for three decades, lost its grip on power after the death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi and later the change of regime to the hands of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The TPLF opposed political reforms introduced under Abiy and later walked out of the talks to form a unitary political party, the Prosperity Party (PP).

At the height of the political contest, the TPLF officials, controlling the regional state of Tigray, held elections in September and were later accused of attacking federal government troops stationed in the region, which sparked off a conflict.

The US mention of Eritrea in the conflict is the first such official attempt to publicly name Asmara, which was targeted by air strikes from the TPLF militias at the early stages of the conflict.

Tigray, home to about 5 million people, has been the epicentre of the conflict since November.

-0- PANA AO/AR 5Feb2021