Ethiopian forces bombed a busy market at a town in the war-torn northern region of Tigray, killing at least 50 persons including civilians.
While over 400 people sustained injuries in the aerial attack, eyewitnesses said the Ethiopian Air Force hit the town of Togoga on Tuesday afternoon.
Ambulances belonging to NGOs including Red Cross medics were initially blocked from reaching victims in the town which is about 25 kilometres North West of the regional capital, Mekelle.
A medical team dispatched from Mekelle Ayder Hospital was also stopped at checkpoints and later detained for hours after they attempted to reach the scene through a different route, a health worker confirmed.
He added that the medics were forced to return to Mekelle despite showing a pass letter from the interim government.
“Several people have died because they couldn’t immediately get medical treatment,” a witness said.
Later on, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) got access and helped with the medical evacuation of wounded people in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
The operation was conducted in coordination with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) from Togoga village, and other relevant bodies.
The wounded were transported in ERCS ambulances and are now receiving medical treatment in Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle.
“We will always support Movement partners in the provision of life-saving services to people affected by conflict and violence,” said Nicolas Von Arx, ICRC’s team lead in Addis Ababa.
“We cannot stress enough how vital it is for the medical mission to be respected and protected at all times.”
The airstrikes come a day after the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) report major victories against allied Ethiopian and Eritrean forces.
It also comes at a time when vote-counting is under way following elections that went ahead without polling in the Tigray region and other restive regions in the country.
Two weeks ago, G7 Leaders called for aid workers’ unimpeded access to Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where the UN says some 350,000 people are living in famine conditions. The Ethiopian Federal government is yet to officially comment on the strike. This is PM Abiy’s first time facing voters since ascending to power in 2018.
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