64 Dead In Ethiopian Air Strike As Army Denies Targeting Civilians

An injured resident of Togoga, a village about 20km west of Mekele, receives medical treatment at the Ayder referral hospital in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 23, 2021, a day after a deadly airstrike on a market in Ethiopia’s war-torn northern Tigray region, where a seven-month-old conflict surged again. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)


At least 64 people were killed and 180 were injured in an air strike on a market in Ethiopia’s war-torn northern Tigray region, a local health officer said Thursday, as the army denied targeting civilians.

Details of the bloody attack on Togoga town, 30 kilometres (18 miles) northwest of the regional capital Mekele, on Tuesday were slow to emerge partly because soldiers initially blocked emergency workers from accessing the area.

By Thursday, hospitals in Mekele were treating at least 73 people, including young children.

Victims at the hospital suffered shrapnel wounds and burns, and in some cases doctors were forced to perform amputations to save lives.

– Rebels dressed as civilians –

The Ethiopian military admitted carrying out the attack but said it targeted rebel fighters, not civilians.

The health officer told AFP at least 64 people had died.

“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.

He said the toll had been collated from residents of Togoga and “confirmed with local leaders”.

Survivors spoke of huge devastation as aerial explosions tore through the busy market around 1 pm, killing and injuring dozens, reducing nearby homes to rubble and burying people under the ruins.

But Ethiopia’s military spokesman said rebel fighters dressed in civilian clothes, gathered in Togoga to celebrate “Martyr Day”, were attacked.

“We do not accept that this operation targeted civilians,” Colonel Getnet Adane told AFP.

“It is a clear fact that both the remnants of the TPLF and its militia dress in civilian clothes,” he said, referring to the renegade former regional leadership.

Genet also denied the army targeted a market, adding that while it was market day on Tuesday, “in Ethiopia, people go to the markets in the morning, and by the afternoon they are usually deserted.”

Gebregiorgies Gebrehaweria, who was admitted to hospital in Mekele with a leg injury, said: “I didn’t hear anything until the jet passed overhead.”

“Then suddenly there was an explosion, and shrapnel went everywhere,” the 23-year-old said. “Two of my friends were killed. There were bodies everywhere lying on the ground, I don’t know how many.”

The attack came as vote counting was under way following Monday’s national elections in Ethiopia.

No vote was held in Tigray because of the conflict, and the region has seen an upsurge in fighting and rebel advances in recent days.

They included the brief occupation of the key town of Adigrat in the far north, and Wukro, further south nearer Mekele, residents told AFP, while heavy shelling was reported to the north of the regional capital on Thursday morning.

Flights in and out of Mekele were disrupted for a second day Thursday.

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

But nearly eight months later, fighting continues, which has triggered a humanitarian crisis with the UN warning 350,000 people are on the brink of famine.

– International outrage –

The strike has provoked international outrage, with the United States calling it a “reprehensible act”.

The European Union said the blocking of ambulances from reaching the scene would be a grave violation of international law, while the United Nations called for an urgent investigation into the strike.

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti rejected the criticism, accusing the rebels of using human shields to draw attacks.

“The Ethiopian government does not target civilians. It is only moving to pick up people wanted by the law,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Dina complained that international attention was focused on Tuesday’s deadly attack, rather than Monday’s polls, saying foreign powers “didn’t care to give statements on this historical election”.


Eight Children Among 15 Civilians Killed By Mine In Afghanistan – Govt


Fifteen civilians, including eight children, were killed Wednesday when their vehicle hit a land mine in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan, a government official said.

“At around 5:00 pm this evening a mine planted by the Taliban terrorists hit a civilian car… killing 15 civilians and wounding two more,” said Nasrat Rahimi, an interior ministry spokesman.

Six women and a man were also among those killed in the blast in Kunduz, on the country’s northern border with Tajikistan, Rahimi said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast. It was also unclear if it was a targeted attack.

However, there are regular clashes in the region between the Taliban insurgents and US-backed Afghan forces.

Insurgents attacked the provincial capital, also called Kunduz, in early September, but failed to capture it. The Taliban briefly seized the city in 2015.

The blast comes during what has been a period of relative and uneasy calm, where the rate of large-scale attacks has dropped in recent weeks.

The comparative lull followed a blood-stained presidential campaign season that ended with a general election on September 28.

No Vote Results Yet

But Wednesday’s blast comes less than a week after a foreign national was killed and at least five other people wounded in a grenade attack on a United Nations vehicle in Kabul on November 24.

The attack happened on a road frequently used by UN traffic shuttling workers between central Kabul and a large UN compound on the outskirts of the capital.

The UN said two other staff members — one Afghan and one international — were wounded.

Aid agencies and non-governmental groups are sometimes targeted in Afghanistan’s war.

In 2011, seven foreign UN workers — including four Nepalis, a Swede, a Norwegian and a Romanian — were killed in an attack on a UN compound in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Afghans are still waiting for the results of that September 28 presidential election, with a recount bogged down by technical difficulties and bickering between the incumbent, President Ashraf Ghani, and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah.

Afghans are also waiting to see what might happen in negotiations between Washington and the Taliban.

US President Donald Trump in September ended those yearlong talks as Taliban violence continued, but on November 22 he suggested to US broadcaster Fox News that negotiations could be getting underway again.

Syria: Eight Civilians Among 15 Dead In Turkish Operation

Civilians flee amid Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019.  Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP


Turkish bombardment on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria killed at least 15 people on Wednesday, eight of them civilians, a monitoring group said in an updated toll.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least two of the civilian victims were killed in artillery strikes on the city of Qamishli.

Turkey launched its threatened offensive hours earlier, with a limited number of air strikes and mostly artillery fire across most of the width of its long border with Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria.

The Britain-based Observatory, which has a vast network of sources across Syria, said more than 40 people had also been wounded in the early phase of the attack.

The Kurds, whose main militia is considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara, have vowed to resist any ground offensive and called on the population to mobilise.

The flat and open terrain favours Turkey’s vastly superior military however and the Kurdish forces have limited means to resist without the support of their US allies.

The offensive, which was widely condemned, comes three days after US President Donald Trump announced a US troop pullback from the border, effectively green-lighting a Turkish invasion.


Over 100 Civilians Killed In Fresh South Sudan Violence


The UN said Wednesday that conflict had intensified in a region of South Sudan since a peace deal was signed, with hundreds of civilians raped or murdered by warring factions.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said civilians had been “deliberately and brutally targeted” in Central Equatoria since the agreement was inked in September.

At least 104 people had been killed in attacks on villages in the southern region, it said.

A roughly similar number of women and girls were raped or suffered other sexual violence between September and April, it said in its latest human rights report.

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Many were taken captive by armed groups to serve as “wives,” it said.

The surge in violence has forced more than 56,000 civilians to flee their homes, becoming displaced in South Sudan itself, while another 20,000 have crossed the border into Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Sudan descended into war in 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy and fellow former rebel leader Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

The conflict has been marked by ethnic violence and brutal atrocities and left about 380,000 dead while some four million have fled their homes.

UNMISS said overall there had been a “significant decrease” in violence across the country since Kiir and Machar signed the deal.

“However, Central Equatoria has been an exception to this trend, particularly in areas surrounding Yei, where attacks against civilians have continued,” the report said.

The report identified government forces, fighters allied to Machar and rebel groups who did not sign the peace agreement, as responsible for atrocities in their quest to take territory in Central Equatoria.

In the first phase of fighting, that coincided with the signing of the peace agreement, at least 61 civilians were killed in deliberate attacks or caught in the indiscriminate crossfire.

“At least 150 civilians were also held in captivity by these groups, including women and girls taken as ‘wives’ by commanders or raped and beaten by multiple fighters,” the report said.

The second outbreak of violence began in January when government forces punished those believed to rebel collaborators with “sexual violence as well as looting and destroying homes, churches, schools and health centres”.

Under the peace deal, Kiir agreed to set up a unity government with longtime rival Machar, who is to return from exile.

But this new government, initially scheduled to take office on May 12, was postponed for six months.


US Urges Sudan Army To Bring Civilians Into Government

Sudanese Defence Minister Ahmed Awad Ibnouf delivering a speech in Khartoum, announcing that President Omar al-Bashir was removed from power on April 11, 2019 AFP


The United States on Thursday urged Sudan’s army to bring civilians into government after ousting veteran leader Omar al-Bashir, saying an announced two-year timeline was too long.

The United States calls “on transitional authorities to exercise restraint and to allow space for civilian participation within the government,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

“The Sudanese people should determine who leads them and their future and the Sudanese people have been clear and are demanding a civilian-led transition,” he said.

“The United States position is the Sudanese people should be allowed to do so sooner than two years from now,” he said.

The United States has been in talks to improve relations with Sudan after years of tension with Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for the bloody campaign in the western Darfur region that Washington has described as genocide.

“The United States continues to call for those responsible for the horrific crimes that were committed in Darfur to be held accountable for those actions,” Palladino said, without specifying whether Bashir or the coup leader, Defense Minister Awad Ibnouf, should be extradited.


Nine Civilians Killed, 13 Wounded In War-Torn Yemen


Nine civilians were killed and at least 13 wounded earlier this week in attacks in the provinces of Hodeida and Hajjah in war-torn Yemen, the UN said on Friday.

In Hodeida, eight people were killed and 10 were wounded Tuesday when an artillery shell hit a market to the west of the Tuhayta district, according to a statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The statement added that unconfirmed reports indicated a woman was killed and three children injured the next day when a house was hit in the northern province of Hajjah.

“These attacks are unconscionable,” said the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande.

“The country is facing the worst food security crisis in the world and yet the killing continues. Parties to the conflict are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians.”

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She did not name the parties behind the attacks.

The statement said there have been 271 civilian casualties, including 96 fatalities, between January 1 and February 14 in Yemen.

More than 24 million Yemenis, more than three-quarters of the country’s population, are now dependent on some form of aid for survival, according to the UN.

The Iran-backed Huthi rebels have battled a pro-government military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for control of the impoverished country for four years.

Both parties are accused of failing to protect civilians in the conflict, described by the UN as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Around 10,000 people — mostly civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded in the conflict, according to the World Health Organization.

Human rights groups say the real figure could be five times as high.


Syria Strikes Kill Six Civilians In South Damascus

A Syrian air force Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunship flies over the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk on the southern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus during regime strikes targeting the Islamic State (IS) group. Photo Credit: Rami al SAYED / AFP


Syrian regime air strikes have killed six civilians in southern Damascus where government forces are fighting the Islamic State group, a war monitor said Wednesday.

The six, including two men and their wives, were killed in the strikes on the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk late Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Regime strikes and rocket fire Wednesday morning targeted the neighbouring districts of Hajar al-Aswad and Qadam, the Britain-based monitor said.

The latest civilian deaths bring to 18 the total of non-fighters killed in regime bombardment on the capital’s southern neighbourhoods since Thursday last week.

Yarmuk, which is now IS’s last urban redoubt in Syria or Iraq, was once Syria’s biggest Palestinian refugee camp, home to around 160,000 people.

But the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA says most of the 6,000 refugees still living in the camp last week have since fled.

At least 52 pro-regime fighters have been killed in fighting to expel IS from the capital’s southern suburbs since April 19, the Observatory says.

Syrian officials do not usually disclose losses within army ranks.

The monitor has said at least 35 jihadist fighters were also killed during the same period.

There are an estimated 1,000 IS fighters left inside Yarmuk and the adjacent districts of Hajar al-Aswad and Qadam.

IS swept across large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, declaring a cross-border “caliphate” in areas the jihadists seized.

At its height, their pseudo-state covered an area the size of Italy but IS has since lost most of the land it controlled in both countries.

More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.


Operation Python Dance, Not Targeted At Civilians – Abia Dep-Gov

The Deputy Governor of Abia state, Mr. Ude Chukwu, has assured his people that the ongoing Operation Python Dance is not targeted at the civilians, contrary to what people think.

Receiving the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, during his inspection of the Nigerian Army Language Village Institute in Isikwuato area of the state, Mr. Chukwu praised the military in putting the security situation under control.

“I want to tell Abians and Nigerians that the exercise embarked by the Nigeria Army is not targeted on civilian, it is a routine exercise that the soldiers engage to retrain their staff, and to be able to attend to some of those security issues that are prevalent in this area, such as herdsmen/farmers clash, kidnapping, boundary issues amongst many others to ensure that the state is safe.”

Also speaking, a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. General Azubike Ihejirika expressed confidence in the leadership of the COAS, while stressing that the essence for establishing the institute was being realized.

“I Am glad the chief of army staff is here to visit this facility. I want to say that the reason we established this institute looked obvious.

“But not everyone appreciates that Nigeria is surrounded, by French-speaking countries, but I want to say that it is our dream to have a strong Army capable of protecting all his borders through the commencement of this programme,” he added.

Saudi To Probe Deadly Air Strikes On Yemen Funeral House

Yemen Blast, Saudi Arabia, US, Houthi Rebels
Since 2014, thousands have been killed in the conflict between the Houthi Rebels and the Saudi led coalition

The coalition fighting Yemeni rebels led by Saudi Arabia says it will investigate how more than 140 people died in air strikes at a funeral in Sanaa, the country’s capital.

The investigation as announced by Saudi authorities will start immediately and would involve American forensic experts.

Earlier, the Saudi Arabian government debunked the allegations made by the rebel Houthi-run government that the coalition was responsible for the deaths following its air strikes.

The air strikes targeted the funeral of the father of country’s Minister for Interior, Galal al-Rawishan.

In a statement released by the Saudi-led coalition, the Joint Incidents Assessment Team in Yemen and experts from the United States will lead the investigations.

It added that though the situation is regrettable, its troops have been instructed not to target civilian populations.

Meanwhile, the United States is set to carry out its own independent investigation into the air strikes.

The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Ned Price said the collaboration of the US with Saudi Arabia over investigations is “not a blank cheque”.

Allegations of Genocide

The spokesman of the Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdul-Salam said an attack of such magnitude amounts to “genocide”.yemen bomb expolsionjpg

Mr Abdul-Salam also revealed the aid workers who were first responders at the scene of the air strikes were “shocked and outraged”.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, condemned Saturday’s strikes on the funeral as a “horrific attack”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that it had prepared 300 body bags, adding that there were a lot of people in the building before the strikes.

Thousands of people, especially civilians, have been killed in clashes since 2014 when the Saudi-led coalition gave its backing to the internationally-recognized government of Yemen.

11 Killed In Central African Republic Violence

central african republic, violence11 people have been killed in clashes in Bangui’s PK5 neighborhood, a Muslim enclave in the majority Christian nation of the Central African Republic (CAR)

Fighting erupted there, after Commander Marcel Mombeka, a former aide to former President Catherine Samba-Panza, was shot dead in his car on Tuesday.

The country has been plagued by inter-religious violence since 2013, when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power, prompting reprisals from Christian militia, known as anti-Balaka.

The UN says six people, all of them civilians, were killed apart from the army officer who was killed first, in the north-western province last week, by unidentified assailants, who had fired on UN peacekeepers.

The UN mission spokesman Herve Verhoosel, also confirmed that fourteen people are still missing and another fourteen people were wounded.

Okowa Commissions More Projects, Appeals To Pipeline Vandals

Pipeline Vandals, Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta StateDelta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has urged those who are vandalizing pipelines to sheath their swords and employ civil approaches to addressing issues.

The Governor made the call while commissioning Jeddo/Ughoton road in Okpe Local Government Area of the state as part of activities to mark his one year in office.

The Governor said that the activities of the vandals in the state has affected communities negatively.

“The pipeline vandalism that is going on is very bad for Delta State, we are suffering from pollution, our communities are affected, we are the greatest losers; our communities are impacted negatively.

“I want to appeal to our brothers who are involved in one way or the other in these vandalism to stop. We cannot destroy ourselves in order to make a point, there are more civil ways of channelling grievances which we should apply than vandalizing pipelines and endangering our people,” the Governor said.

Commissioning the road, Governor Okowa said that his attention was drawn to the deplorable state of the road by the Orodje of Okpe, His Royal Majesty Orhue I and commended the contractor for the speedy delivery of the road.

The Orodje of Okpe, Orhue I, in a brief speech, congratulated the people of Delta for having a listening governor disclosing that only a phone call made Governor Okowa construct the road which also leads to the community where the Commissioner for Works, James Augoye hails from.

“Our Governor is a listening Governor; we want to thank him, Okpe people deserve to say thank you, because only one phone call to him and this road was done,” the Orodje said,

Augoye in his speech, observed that the road was impassable as at December, 2015 when the contract for the construction of the road was awarded.

In a related development, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has directed the Ministry of Works to rehabilitate failed portions of Adeola Road, Sapele to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the area.

The road is about 200 metres.

The Governor also inspected the on-going dualization of Amukpe/Sapele road in Sapele Local Government Area of the state, and the level of progress of work at Okuetolor/Arhagba road in Okpe Local Government Area.

Okowa Condemns Killing Of Soldiers, Civilians In Delta

Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta StateDelta State Governor, Mr Ifeanyi Okowa, has condemned the recent killing of soldiers and civilians by suspected militants.

The Nigerians who were on their legitimate assignments, were murdered in a houseboat attack in Omadino, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Theatre Of War
In a statement by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, Governor Okowa noted that the killing was a criminality carried too far, as nothing justified the taking of lives of uniformed security men who were out to protect the common property of Nigerians.

“Your activities could turn Delta State into a theatre of war and this portends great danger to the whole population aside from casting the image of the state as insecure and unfit for investment.

“We cannot as a state, afford this rascality if we hope to make progress”, he said.

The Governor recalled his earlier appeals on any aggrieved member of the society, including the Niger Delta militants to embrace dialogue.

He said the appeal led to the decision by his administration to constitute an advocacy committee which went round the creeks and oil producing communities in the last few weeks, to canvass support for a violence-free Delta as a precondition for development.

Dr. Okowa noted that no society would develop in an atmosphere of chaos and criminality, and that no government would fold its hands in the face of this high level of aggravation and utter disregard for the sanctity of human lives while he called on the state residents to help government bring the perpetrators to book.

“For the umpteenth time, I wish to call on well-meaning people of Delta State to speak up and not only condemn the activities of these militants, but also offer their best counsel and commitment towards resolving this crisis,” he said.

The Governor extended his condolence and that of the people of Delta State to the families of the victims and prayed God to grant them eternal rest while urging the security agencies to ensure that the culprits do not go free.

He also advised members of the Niger Delta Avengers to embrace dialogue as means of resolving the crisis, adding that a peaceful and secured Delta was what was needed for development to thrive.