At least 30 bodies have been washed up on the Sudanese banks of a river bordering the northern part of Tigray. Two Ethiopian refugees and four Sudanese witnesses told the media on Monday that they had collected the bodies.
The bodies were discovered in the Setit River, in Ethiopia known as the Tekeze, which runs along the Ethiopian border with Eritrea before reaching Sudan at the point where the three nations meet.
Dr Tewodros Tefera, a surgeon who fled from the Ethiopian border town of Humera, asserted that he had buried ten bodies in Sudan in the past six days and had been told by local fishermen and refugees that another 28 had been collected, including more than 7 on Monday.
“They were shot in the heart, abdomen, legs … and their wrists were also tied,” he replied, stating that he was able to identify three bodies of Tigrayans from Humera using refugees. Many Tigrayans from Humera fled to Sudan when the fighting began.
He shared two videos in which men dug from a grave for a body that washed up on the shore and men who buried the same body in the newly dug grave, reports Reuters.
An Ethiopian refugee from Humera, who asked to be anonymous for fear of the consequences for his family who were still in Ethiopia, said he had found nine bodies.
“We discovered nine … They fastened them with a rope, and they were swollen, but there are no marks that they were hit or shot,” he said.
He shared photos in which bruised and swollen corpses lay on the banks of the river.
Redwan Hussein, leader of the Ethiopian government’s crisis task force on Tigray, and Colonel Getnet Adane, Ethiopia’s army spokesperson, did not reply to the messages for remarks on the bodies. In contrast, Billie Seyoum, the Ethiopian prime minister’s spokeswoman, did not respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.
A Twitter account of the Ethiopian government stated the floating bodies news circulating across social media is a fake campaign being run by Tigrayan. But the accounts of the Ethiopian immigrants were strengthened by an eye-witness in Sudan.
Two local Sudanese officials and two Sudanese residents of the village of Wadd al-Hilew, near the Setit dam in the state of Kassala, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, said they had about 20 bodies from the Setit River: five on Monday, nine on Sunday and six on Saturday.
Some of the bodies were shot, others’ hands were tied but had no other visible injuries, the four told Reuters. The village is about 42 km from Hamdayet camp in Sudan, where the Ethiopian refugees also found bodies.
War broke out eight months ago between the central government of Ethiopia and the ruling party of Tigray, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Tigrayans have previously accused Amhara forces attached to the central government of dumping their bodies there, accusations they refuse.
In recent weeks, fighting has increased from Tigray to Amhara and Afar, two regions in the vicinity of Tigray, jeopardizing the risk of further destabilization of the second-most populous country in Africa.