Nineteen people have been killed in drone strikes in Ethiopian Tigray, in the latest reported attacks in the war-affected region.
In Monday’s deadliest strike in the southern Tigray town of Mai Tsebri, 17 people working in a flour mill were killed, one of the aid workers said, citing testimony.
The aid worker said dozens of people were also injured and 16 donkeys killed.
“A witness told me that the drones came and hovered a bit before dropping bombs. Then people panicked, but after a few minutes everyone heard huge screams and they went to the scene to see that the women and the donkeys were dead.
In another strike on Tuesday, two people were killed and dozens injured in Hiwane, south of Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, according to an official and a doctor at the city’s main hospital.
The attacks came after dozens of people were reportedly killed and many more injured in a drone strike on Friday on a camp in northwest Tigray for people displaced by the brutal 14-month conflict in Ethiopia.
The strike reported on Monday came the same day US President Joe Biden raised concerns over the continued violence in a phone call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Biden expressed concern that “ongoing hostilities, including recent airstrikes, continue to claim civilian lives and suffering,” according to a White House statement.
It was not possible to verify the reports independently as access to Tigray is restricted and it remains subject to a communication failure.
An Ethiopian government spokeswoman said on Tuesday she had no information about the alleged strikes.
Rebels from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) say government forces continue to carry out airstrikes despite retreating to their Tigray stronghold in December.
Their withdrawal followed a government offensive which had led to the reconquest of a series of strategic towns and raised hopes of a possible opening towards a ceasefire.
On Friday, the government announced an amnesty for several top TPLF officials and other prominent opposition leaders in what it called an attempt to pave the way for national dialogue and “unity.” .
Fighting between forces loyal to Abiy and the TPLF and their allies has left thousands dead and forced several million from their homes since their eruption in November 2020.
Tigray is subject to what the UN calls a de facto blockade that prevents food and life-saving medicine from reaching its 6 million inhabitants, including hundreds of thousands in conditions bordering on famine.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, himself a Tigrayan, said on Twitter that he was “deeply concerned at reports of another drone strike in Tigray, leaving too many injured and deaths among civilians “.
He said he echoed a call from UN Secretary General António Guterres “for an end to the conflict in Ethiopia and urgent authorization of humanitarian aid”.
Aid workers who spoke to AFP also said the attack on Dedebit IDP camp in northwest Tigray left 59 people dead, including 138 injured.
After the strike, humanitarian agencies suspended operations in the region, according to the United Nations emergency response agency OCHA.