NAIROBI (Somaliguardian) – Eritrean soldiers and Tigrayan militias committed atrocities, including rape, killing and arbitrary detentions against Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia’s war-wrecked northern region of Tigray, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.
The International rights watchdog said attacks by Eritrean forces and Tigrayan militias targeted two Eritrean refugee camps in the northern region, where thousands of refugees are still missing.
The refugee camps – Shimebla and Hitsats – hosted tens of thousands of Eritrean refugees in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray before war between allied Ethiopian and Eritrean troops, and the Tigrayan rebels erupted in November.
“The horrific killings, rapes, and looting against Eritrean refugees in Tigray are clear war crimes,” said Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Eritrea, whose troops were earlier accused of committing atrocities against Tigrayan civilians, has not immediately commented on HRW’s report.
A spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said uniformed Tigrayan forces had only recented reached the area where the refugee camps are located and that there was a possibility that the abuses were committed by local militias.
“It is mostly the last month or so that our forces moved into those areas. There was a huge Eritrean army presence there,” Getachew Reda told Reuters news agency.
“If there were vigilante groups acting in the heat of the moment I cannot rule that out.”
It comes amid reports that Ethiopia and Eritrea’s forces are planning a new offensive on the war-hit northern Ethiopian region, months after troops of both countries withdrew from most parts of Tigray following key battle reversals.
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