Dozens of bodies found floating in a river between Ethiopian Tigray and Sudan

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Dozens of bodies found floating in a river between Ethiopian Tigray and Sudan


A Sudanese official said local authorities in Kassala province found around 50 bodies, apparently people fleeing war in Ethiopia’s neighboring Tigray region, floating in the river between countries over the past week.

Some bodies were found with gunshot wounds or their hands tied, and the official said Monday a forensic investigation was needed to determine the cause of death. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Two Ethiopian health workers from the Sudanese border community of Hamdayet confirmed seeing the bodies found in the Setit River, known in Ethiopia as the Tekeze.

The river runs through some of the most troubled areas in the nine-month conflict in Tigray, where Tigrayans have accused Ethiopian and allied forces of atrocities while fighting Tigray forces.

Tewodros Tefera, a surgeon who fled the nearby Tigray town of Humera to Sudan, told The Associated Press that two of the bodies were found on Monday, one of a man with his hands tied and the another from a woman with a chest injury. Other refugees buried at least 10 other bodies, he said.

He shared a video of men appearing to prepare a shroud for a body floating face down in the river.

Tewodros said the bodies were found downstream from Humera, where authorities and allied fighters in Ethiopia’s Amhara region have been accused by refugees of expelling local Tigrayans during the war while claiming the Tigray Western was their land.

“In fact, we are dealing with bodies spotted by fishermen,” Tewodros said. “I suspect there are more bodies on the river. “

While it was difficult to identify the bodies, one of them had a common name in the Tigrayan language, Tigrinya, tattooed on the arm, the surgeon said.

Another doctor working at Hamdayet who saw the bodies told The Associated Press that some of the corpses had facial markings indicating they were of the Tigrayan ethnicity. “I saw a lot of barbaric things,” said the doctor, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. “Some had been hit by an ax. “

Witnesses at the river told him they had not been able to catch all the floaters downstream due to the rapid flow of water during the rainy season, the doctor said.

A Twitter account set up by the Ethiopian government on Monday called the corps accounts a bogus campaign “propagandists” among Tigray forces.

Fighting erupted in Tigray in November between the Ethiopian federal forces and the ruling party in the region, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF).

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, said the relocation of his forces to the region was a response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.

The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and sent tens of thousands to flee to neighboring Sudan.

Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, on Monday visited a refugee camp in Sudan hosting thousands of Ethiopians who fled the Tigray War. She will then travel to Ethiopia to pressure the government to allow humanitarian aid in Tigray, a region of some 6 million people experiencing the world’s worst food crisis in a decade. The United States says up to 900,000 people are now facing conditions of starvation.

The United Nations food agency said it was working to deliver food to Tigray via Sudan despite the frayed links between Khartoum and Addis Ababa.

Negotiations to gain access to the stranded Tigray region have proven to be quite difficult, said Marianne Ward, deputy director of the World Food Program in Sudan. She said WFP had already shipped 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Ethiopia via Sudan.

With Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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