NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The medical charity Doctors Without Borders says it is “horrified by the brutal murder” of three colleagues in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the latest attack on humanitarian workers helping civilians in the deadly conflict there.
A statement by the aid group, also known by its French acronym MSF, says two Ethiopian colleagues and one from Spain were found dead on Friday, a day after colleagues lost contact with them while they were traveling.
“This morning the vehicle was found empty and a few meters away, their lifeless bodies,” the statement said. It did not say where the attack occurred.
“We condemn this attack on our colleagues in the strongest possible terms and will be relentless in understanding of what happened,” MSF said, calling it “unthinkable” that the colleagues — emergency coordinator Maria Hernandez, assistant coordinator Yohannes Halefom Reda and driver Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael — paid for their work with their lives.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office, Billene Seyoum, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The attack occurred amid some of the fiercest fighting in Tigray since the conflict began in November. This week Ethiopia’s military acknowledged carrying out an airstrike on a busy market in Tigray that health workers said killed several dozen civilians. The military claimed it was targeting combatants.
The conflict in Tigray has been deeply challenging for humanitarian workers who have pleaded for better access to the region since the fighting began, with Ethiopian forces backed by ones from neighboring Eritrea pursuing Tigray’s former leaders.
More than 350,000 people in Tigray already face famine, according to the United Nations and other humanitarian groups.