Atrocities have been committed in Tigray, Ethiopia’s northern region where fighting persists as government troops hunt down its fugitive leaders, the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.
This is the first time Abiy appears to acknowledge that serious crimes have taken place in Tigray, which is home to six million people.
“Reports indicate that atrocities have been committed in Tigray region,” Abiy told lawmakers in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday.
War is “a nasty thing”, he said, speaking the local Amharic language. “We know the destruction this war has caused.”
He said soldiers who raped women or committed other war crimes will be held responsible, even though he cited “propaganda of exaggeration” by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the once-dominant party whose leaders challenged Abiy’s legitimacy after the postponement of elections last year.
Abiy spoke as concerns continue to grow over the humanitarian situation in the embattled region where the conflict began in November last year when Abiy sent government troops into the region following an attack on federal military facilities.
The federal army is now hunting the fugitive regional leaders.
Abiy accused the embattled region’s leaders of drumming “a war narrative” while the area faced challenges such as a destructive invasion of locusts and the Covid pandemic.
“This was misplaced and untimely arrogance,” he said.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to make peace with Eritrea, faces pressure to end the conflict in Tigray as well as to institute an international investigation into alleged war crimes.—Al Jazeera