KAMPALA, Uganda — Ethiopia’s leader says atrocities have occurred in Tigray, the country’s northern region where fighting persists as government troops hunt down its fugitive leaders.
“Reports indicate that atrocities have been committed in Tigray region,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in an address before lawmakers in the capital, Addis Ababa, Tuesday.
This is the first time Abiy appears to acknowledge that serious crimes have been perpetrated in Tigray, home to 6 million people.
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. The Tigray conflict began in November, when Abiy sent government troops into the region after an attack there 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-19 pandemic. “This was misplaced and untimely arrogance,” he said, according to a transcript of his comments posted on Twitter by the prime minister’s office.