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Ethiopia, Eritrea Deny US 'War Crimes' Assertion


FILE: Ethiopian government soldiers ride in the back of a truck on a road near Agula, north of Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. Taken May 8, 2021.

UPDATED TO ADD ERITREA REJECTION OF U.S. ASSERTION: ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia's government on Tuesday accused the United States of taking a "partisan" approach by alleging that its forces, and Eritrean troops, had committed war crimes during the two-year conflict in Tigray. Eritrea has also rejected the assertion.

"The US statement is inflammatory," the foreign ministry said in a statement, a day after Washington accused all parties to the conflict of committing war crimes but singled out Ethiopian, Eritrean and regional Amhara forces for crimes against humanity, without mentioning the Tigrayan rebels.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who last week made his first visit to Ethiopia since a breakthrough November 2022 peace deal between the federal government and Tigrayan rebels, said the State Department carried out a "careful review of the law and the facts" and concluded that war crimes were committed by federal troops from both Ethiopia and its ally Eritrea as well as by the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and forces from the neighbouring Amhara region.

"Many of these actions were not random or a mere byproduct of war. They were calculated and deliberate," Blinken said as he presented an annual US human rights report.

Blinken added that the State Department also found crimes against humanity by Ethiopian, Eritrean and Amhara forces, including killings and sexual violence, although he did not mention the TPLF.

Ethiopia's foreign ministry said the US statement "unfairly apportions blame among different parties in the conflict".

"This partisan and divisive approach from the US is ill-advised," it said, calling it "unwarranted" and unhelpful to the peace process.

Eritrea on Tuesday rejected US claims that its forces committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the conflict in northern Ethiopia, branding the accusations "unsubstantiated and defamatory."

The foreign ministry said in a statement that the allegations constituted a "continuation of unwarranted hostility and demonization that US administrations have pursued against Eritrea since 2009 to advance their ulterior political agendas."

The war badly soured US relations with Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous nation and long one of Washington's major partners on the continent.