NAIROBI (Reuters) - Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) staff travelling in Ethiopia’s Tigray region saw Ethiopian soldiers shoot dead four civilians, the medical aid agency said on Thursday.
The incident happened on the road between the regional capital Mekelle and the town of Adigrat on Tuesday and followed an apparent attack on an Ethiopian military convoy, MSF said.
Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the government’s emergency task force on Tigray, Billene Seyoum, spokeswoman for the prime minister, and Mulu Nega, head of Tigray’s interim administration, did not respond to requests for comment on the MSF statement.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the MSF account.
In its statement, MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said Ethiopian soldiers stopped an MSF car and two public minibuses driving behind it.
“The soldiers then forced the passengers to leave the minibuses. The men were separated from the women, who were allowed to walk away. Shortly after, the men were shot,” the aid group said.
MSF said its staff saw the bodies of those killed by the road.
Almost five months of fighting between Ethiopian government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), have left thousands of people dead and forced hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes in the mountainous region of about five million.
Though the government declared victory in late November, fighting has continued in some areas and the United Nations and aid groups say insecurity is preventing badly needed aid from reaching hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed acknowledged for the first time this week that atrocities including rape had been committed during the fighting and said any soldiers committing crimes would be punished.
The United Nations said on Thursday it would work with state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to jointly probe allegations of rights abuses by all parties in the Tigray conflict.
Reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Editing by Robert Birsel and Jon Boyle
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