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Ethiopia: 30 killed, 18 injured in Ethiopian air strike on passenger truck near Sasit, Amhara

On the morning of Monday 19 February, an Ethiopian drone struck a truck while it was dropping off passengers near Sasit, a town in Ethiopia’s embattled Amhara state. The truck was reportedly carrying up to 50 passengers. At least 30 civilians were killed, and 18 injured.

Ethiopian authorities recently extended the state of emergency in Amhara, where the army has been engaged in an armed conflict with the Fano group since last April. However, on the morning in question, local residents reported that no conflicts or clashes were taking place in the area at the time, while drones continued to circle overhead after the event, as residents tried to retrieve the bodies and the wounded.

Amnesty International reports that Ethiopian authorities have used the state of emergency to “silence peaceful dissent,” restricting the right to freedom of movement and banning public assemblies or associations. The government has also limited access to information, a strategy that has been part of the authorities’ arsenal since the beginning of the 2020 war in Tigray. Reporting on the conflicts in the country, and recording the casualties resulting from these conflicts, has been fraught with challenges.

Action on Armed Violence has recorded 79 incidents of explosive weapons use in Ethiopia since 2013, 61% (48) of which took place in 2021 and 2022. A further nine incidents were recorded in 2023. Furthermore, since 2013, AOAV has recorded 2,273 civilians killed and injured by explosive weapons in the country, 86% (1,965) of whom have been harmed since 2021. Of the civilian casualties, 45% (1,027) were reported killed.

YearIncidentsCivilian casualties

The Ethiopian government is reportedly responsible for 48% (38) of recorded incidents, and 48% (1,097) of civilian casualties, as well as 53% (542) of civilian fatalities. Other known perpetrators include Eritrea (45 civilian casualties), the Oromo Liberation Army (300), and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (12).

Air strikes have killed and injured 1,506 civilians in Ethiopia since 2013 – 66% of all civilians harmed in Ethiopia in that time – across 42 incidents. These are predominantly perpetrated by state actors, including Ethiopia (35 incidents, 1,080 civilian casualties), unknown state actors (six incidents, 420 civilian casualties), and Eritrea (one incident, six civilian casualties).

AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. In an effort to quantify the explicit harm caused by specific explosive weapons, AOAV solely records incident-specific casualty figures, as reported in English-language media.

AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.