In early December, Ethiopian state television broadcast something unexpected: a fiery exchange between civilians in Shire, in the northern Tigray region, and Ethiopian soldiers, who had recently arrived in the area.
To the surprise of viewers used to wartime propaganda, the Tigrayan elders spoke in vivid detail of the horrors that had befallen the town since the outbreak of war between the federal government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s longstanding ruling party, which was ousted from the state capital of Mekelle in late November.
Residents had been “slaughtered like chicken”, the elders said, their corpses abandoned to be “eaten by hyenas”.
They also spoke of rampant looting and vandalism: “All government assets have been destroyed and looted,” said one.
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