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US calls for withdrawal of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia following investigation into massacre

February 28, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Saturday for the withdrawal of Eritrean and Ethiopian regional forces from the Tigray region of Ethiopia and urged an end to killings and human rights violations there.

(CNN)US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Saturday for the withdrawal of Eritrean and Ethiopian regional forces from the Tigray region of Ethiopia and urged an end to killings and human rights violations there.

His call came a day after investigations by CNN and Amnesty International into the massacre of civilians in two separate assaults in the northern Tigray region late last year.

Thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military operation against leaders in the Tigray region.

CNN has previously reported that soldiers from neighboring Eritrea have perpetuated many of the extrajudicial killings, assaults and human rights abuses in the Tigray region.

"The United States is gravely concerned by reported atrocities and the overall deteriorating situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia," Blinken said in a statement Saturday.

"We strongly condemn the killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have reported in Tigray. " He added that "those responsible for them must be held accountable. "

Eyewitnesses told CNN that a group of Eritrean soldiers opened fire on Maryam Dengelat church in Dengelat village, eastern Tigray, on November 30 while hundreds of congregants were celebrating mass.

Amnesty International charged in a report Friday that Eritrean forces killed hundreds of unarmed civilians in the city of Axum in November through indiscriminate shelling and shooting and extrajudicial killings, in what the human rights organization said could amount to a crime against humanity.

In his statement, Blinken recognized the Ethiopian Prime Minister's commitment to allow humanitarian aid to the region, adding: "The international community needs to work collectively to ensure that these commitments are realized.

"The immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces from Tigray are essential first steps," Blinken said, referring to forces from Ethiopia's Amhara state, which neighbors Tigray.

Abiy has also denied that soldiers from Eritrea crossed into Tigray to support Ethiopian forces.

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