07 June 2021 – 17:46
The screams of the dying gradually fell silent as the sky darkened. Around midnight, Berhane Gebrezigher, an ethnic Tigrayan, remembers lying in a ditch full of men who, like himself, had been shot and left for dead. He called out: “Is there anyone breathing?”
When the sun rose, the old man faced a choice: die in the ditch or haul himself to the road. Painfully, he began shuffling upwards.
It was mid-January, more than two months into an ethnic conflict that has convulsed western Tigray, an area of rich farmland in Ethiopia’s north where two of the country’s ethnic groups – Tigrayans and Amharas – used to live and work the soil together.
Berhane, 74, says he was among more than 50 Tigrayan civilians rounded up and trucked by Amhara forces to the Tekeze River that bisects Tigray. The forces ordered the men to climb down into what appeared to be a freshly dug ditch, Berhane said. Then the gunmen fired. Berhane was hit in both legs and in the back; he said he lay among the bodies, listening to the men reload and shoot at anyone who moved.
Five Tigrayan witnesses told Reuters they saw dozens of dead