64 dead, 180 injured in Ethiopian air strike on Tigray market: official

64 dead, 180 injured in Ethiopian air strike on Tigray market: official

An injured resident of Togoga, a village about 20km west of Mekele, is carried on a stretcher to the Ayder referral hospital in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on Wednesday, a day after a deadly airstrike on a market. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

(France 24) — At least 64 people were killed and 180 injured in an Ethiopian air strike on a market in the war-torn Tigray region, a local health officer told AFP Thursday.

“The air strike was in the market area, so many, many people were injured,” said Mulu Atsbaha, an advisor to the Tigray regional administration on maternal and child health.

The strike on Tuesday in Togoga town also left 180 injured, Mulu added.

He said the toll had been gathered from residents of Togoga town, 30km north-west of the regional capital Mekele, and “confirmed with local leaders”.

Ethiopia’s army spokesperson said Thursday that the military carried out the attack on Togoga, but said rebel fighters were the target.

“We do not accept that this operation targeted civilians,” Colonel Getnet Adane told AFP, insisting that those injured or killed were fighters “in civilian clothes”.

But survivors and health workers described aerial explosions striking a busy market at the peak of trading, killing and injuring dozens, including children.

The United Nations has called for an urgent investigation into the strike.

The attack came as vote counting was underway following Monday’s national elections in Ethiopia. However, the conflict in Tigray meant no vote was held there, and the region has seen an upsurge in fighting in recent days.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray in November to oust the dissident regional leadership, promising a swift victory.

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