Gunmen kill 5 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia’s Afar region
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NAIROBI, Feb 18 (Reuters) – At least five Eritreans were killed when gunmen attacked a refugee camp in Ethiopia’s northeastern Afar region during fighting between rebellious Tigrayan and Afar forces in the area on Feb. 3, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

Refugees told UNHCR that armed men attacked the camp, kidnapped several women, looted property and occupied their homes, causing thousands to flee.

“UNHCR is working with the Ethiopian authorities and partners to provide emergency aid to thousands of Eritrean refugees who fled Barahle refugee camp and its environs in the Afar region after fighting engulfed the area,” the agency said in a statement.

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It did not say who carried out the attack.

Reuters could not reach the spokespersons for the Tigrayan forces or the Afar regional forces for comment.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia has pitted the rulers of the northern region of Tigray against the Ethiopian central government and its allies – including forces from the regions of Amhara and Afar, and troops from the neighbouring nation of Eritrea.

The 15-month-old war has killed thousands of civilians and displaced millions. About 150,000 Eritrean refugees live in Ethiopia. They have been killed, raped and imprisoned by belligerents on both sides of the conflict and cut off from aid for months at a time.

Fighting between Tigrayan and Afar forces has displaced at least 300,000 people since December and blocked food deliveries into neighbouring Tigray, where millions of people are dependent on aid.

Afar is of strategic importance because its territory contains the main road and railway linking Addis Ababa, landlocked Ethiopia’s capital, with the sea port of Djibouti.

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Reporting by Giulia Paravicini;
Editing by Katharine Houreld and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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