Ethiopia said Tuesday that after capturing the major cities of Dessie and Kombolcha from Tigray rebels, it has documented cases of mass destruction of property and killings.
A spokeswoman in the prime minister’s office, Billene Seyoum, told a news conference that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) are accused of human rights violations while they held the city.
”There are reports of mass killings in Gashena and the Northern Shoa town of Antsokia. Vast reports of rape are also emerging across these towns that were occupied by TPLF.” she said.
“Further investigations are needed to expose the grave human rights violations committed by TPLF.”
The office noted the recapturing of the strategic cities and said: “It is to be noted that a week ago up to 12 of TPLF’s senior ranking military personnel were taken out. Yesterday’s feat is a strong blow to the terrorist group that is in disarray. Great numbers of TPLF fighters are being apprehended with many also heeding the call to surrender.”
TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda confirmed that the group’s forces have left the cities but characterized it as a strategic plan.
“We left North Shoa, Kombolcha & Dessie as part of our plan. There was no organized unit to ‘liberate’ these towns and the residents know it [Prime Minister] Abiy’s generals know it. Things are going according to our plan. The rest is just circus,” Reda said on Twitter.
TPLF has yet to comment on government reports linking the group to mass killings in cities where their forces previously captured.
Seyoum urged Ethiopians in the diaspora to return home to support their country.
She also said the government released 28,000 metric tons of food for more than 2 million people who have been directly affected by the war in Ethiopia.
In a joint statement Monday regarding detentions in Ethiopia signed by Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK and the US, the six countries raised concerns about alarming reports of unlawful mass detentions of civilians of Tigrayan origin throughout Ethiopia.
They said they are “concerned by reports of the Ethiopian government’s detention of large numbers of Ethiopian citizens on the basis of their ethnicity and without charge.”
“We denounce any and all violence against civilians past, present and future. All armed actors should cease fighting and the Eritrean Defense Forces should withdraw from Ethiopia,” they added.
International partners called for all parties to seize the opportunity to negotiate a sustainable cease-fire without preconditions, adding that Ethiopians must build an inclusive political process and national consensus through political and legal means and all those responsible for violations and abuses of human rights must be held accountable.