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Airstrike on market kills 64 in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

An airstrike on a market in Togoga, Tigray region, Ethiopia, killed 64 people. Credit: Reuters

An airstrike killed at least 64 people in Togoga, a town in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, on Tuesday, 22 June, 2021. 

At around 1pm, an air-dropped bomb hit a busy market, causing widespread chaos, death and injury. The airstrike took place on the 33rd ‘martyrs day’, a date commemorating the Hazwen Massacre, when over 1,000 Tigrayan people were killed towards the end of the Ethiopian Civil War. 

Ethiopian military spokesman, Colonel Getnet Adane, neither confirmed nor denied the attack, saying airstrikes are a common military tactic but government forces do not target civilians.

Health workers said that ambulances from the region’s capital Mekelle were blocked from accessing the site of the airstrike by Ethiopian military, accusing them of helping the Tigray Defence Forces. A team of doctors were reportedly shot at by military forces while trying to reach the scene.

In these seven months of fighting, two million people have been displaced, and over 60,000 have fled to neighbouring Sudan. Casualty numbers are unclear due to a widespread media blackout in the region, but it is estimated that thousands of people, if not tens of thousands, have been killed. Two million people in the region are suffering a crippling famine, and sexual violence has been weaponised throughout the region, with thousands of women and girls reportedly raped as a deliberate military tactic.

In the last ten years (2011-2020) air-launched weapons have killed and injured 60,202 civilians. When used in populated areas, 90% of the casualties were civilians.

For an in-depth look at the use and harm of airstrikes in modern warfare, read the report: What is an airstrike?