– Several civilians were killed and injured in an air strike on an open market in the Tigray region on June 22, 2021. The Togogua market in Dogu’a Tembien Woreda is about 25 km west of Tigray’s capital, Mekelle. Sources from Ayder Hospital in Mekelle said ambulances were prevented from entering the area and casualties could subsequently rise as ambulances were blocked by military forces at the checkpoint. Victims, including children, were reportedly arriving at the hospital.
Addis Standard learned from sources that five injured civilians, including the two-year-old, arrived at the Ayder hospital Eldana Gebresilasie, whose mother spoke of her injuries to Addis Standard . Eldana’s mother said through tears: “A plane suddenly came and launched an attack around us, everything turned into smoke in the twilight until we could no longer distinguish between dead and alive. I barely managed to get my daughter to Mekelle. My daughter is receiving medical care and I am worried whether she will survive or not. “
Ayder Hospital’s chief physician, Dr. Kibrom Gebre Selassie, on the other hand, told Addis Standard that the hospital was accepting five victims who were hospitalized on the day of the attack in Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) vehicles. The hospital ambulance also brought a girl who was injured by a bullet. Dr. However, Kibrom said, “There is no doubt that the number of victims could be worse.” The doctor also said they had abdominal surgery on a 2-year-old child, one of 5 who were hospitalized on the same day of the attack.
According to the source, the hospital’s ambulances tried to get to Togogwa military forces stationed there were prevented from passing through the checkpoint. Addis Standard also spoke to the family of a victim named Hadera Hayelom, aged 13, who was killed in the attack while shopping at the market with her mother, Kiros Gebremedhin, 45. The family members who mourn said Kiros was also injured and was seeking medical treatment.
Also, Hadera’s family said they had been informed that at least 35 people had been killed, including a priest named Gebrehiwot, aged 52, Abreha Hagos 13 and a 45-year-old plant seller Haile Selassie Alemayehu was also killed in the incident. Addis Standard also learned that an entire family consisting of Gebrelibanos Fithanegest along with his wife and son were killed in the impact. Addis Standard was informed by a health worker at Ayder Hospital about the arrival of 32 injured patients from Togogua. Health workers also said the ban on ambulances driving into the area has now improved. “Up to six ambulances bring more people from the crime scene to the hospital.”
Another eyewitness, Woldemichael, a vendor in the market, told Addis Standard that a massive strike had been struck the market around noon, where so many people gather to shop and sell every week. He said, “I’ve seen dozens of dead and injured in the area where I was sitting.” Woldemichael survived the attack and is now in Ayder hospital to care for his injured cousins.
Meanwhile, Colonel Getnet Adane, an Ethiopian Defense Forces (ENDF) spokesman, told the BBC, that the military never carried out air strikes in the market mentioned that the army has the ability to properly hit its target. “We carried out air strikes, but only on selected and limited targets,” he said, adding: “The allegations about attacks on a marketplace are completely false.”
In another interview, the ENDF spokesman said said the only combatants, not civilians, were hit in an air strike this week. He explained that the fighters in the city of Togogua wore civilian clothes. According to the spokesman, the fighters were not in the market but had gathered in town to commemorate the anniversary of the bombing of another town in Tigray, Hawzen, in 1988. The ENDF chief of staff, General Birhanu Jula, also confirmed the testimony of Said: “The airstrike did not take place at noon, it was carried out at 4pm.” He said, adding, “The market is not open at this time.” Birhanu refuted allegations about civilian casualties: “The operation was directed against a group of bandits led by a person named Migbey.”
The EU described the attack as “extremely worrying” and condemned the attacks on civilians . In a statement, the EU said: “Such practices are a serious violation of the Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law.” The EU also called again for an immediate ceasefire in the region and full humanitarian access to all those affected by the conflict. The US joined the EU in calling for an immediate ceasefire and unhindered humanitarian access, calling for an independent investigation and calling for those responsible for this attack to be held accountable
Addis Standard repeatedly Attempts to reach the ENDF spokesman and officials from the Tigray interim administration were unsuccessful.