HRW: Eritrean forces massacre civilians in Ethiopia’s Tigray region


Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Eritrean armed forces killed scores of civilians in Ethiopia’s Tigray regions, including children as young as 13, in November 2020.

The rights group cites a military operation in the town of Axum, roughly 60 km from the shared border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It accuses forces from both countries of indiscriminately killing and wounding civilians during a week-long campaign before Eritrean forces killed hundreds of residents in response to a retaliation attack from Tigray forces.

HRW accuses Eritrean military of Axum massacre

According to an HRW investigation, Ethiopian and Eritrean forces started “indiscriminately” shelling the historic town of Axum on November 19, 2020. The attack killed and wounded civilians prior to the joint forces seizing control of the town, starting a week-long campaign where forces shot civilians and pillaged and destroyed property, including local health facilities.

On November 28, Axum residents and Tigray forces attacked Eritrean soldiers and, in an apparent response to the attack, Eritrean forces executed several hundred residents over a 24-hour period.

“Eritrean troops committed heinous killings in Axum with wanton disregard for civilian lives,” said Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Ethiopian and Eritrean officials can no longer hide behind a curtain of denial, but should allow space for justice and redress, not add to the layers of trauma that survivors already face.”

HWR is urging the United Nations to urgently establish an independent inquiry into war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in the Tigray region throughout the civil conflict with Ethiopia’s federal military.

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.