Press Release Concerning Criminal Investigation on Crimes Committed in Axum City

14 May 2021

Attorney General, 11 May 2021

A criminal investigation has been underway for the last two months by a team of investigators and prosecutors from the Federal Attorney General and Federal Police for alleged crimes committed in different localities of Tigray Region in relation to the Law Enforcement Mission. During the investigation, until May 3, 2021, testimonies of 95 witnesses and documentary evidence have been taken and collected by the investigation team.

From the testimonies and documentary evidence collected, it has been established that TPLF had recruited, trained and deployed about 2,500 para-military personnel from civilians in major cities of the region to conduct urban warfare prior to the entry of ENDF to the City of Axum. As an instance, in Axum city alone, 1,500 youth received one-day “training” on how to shoot guns during the period from 10 to 18 November 2020 in different rounds to confront the ENDF.

It is established from the evidence that the ENDF entered Axum on 19 November 2020 and remained in the city until 27 November 2020. During this period, it has been ascertained that five individuals have died by cannon artillery which was intended for military targets of the TPLF. Another civilian was due to confrontation with law enforcement forces regarding breach of the curfew imposed by the state of emergency proclamation.

On 27 November 2020, when the ENDF left the city to carry out another law enforcement mission, a small number of Eritrean troops arrived in two vehicles and were stationed in the mountainous area of the city. At this point, TPLF cadres spread a rumour to the effect that the Eritrean army entered the city to surrender and not to fight and instigated the 1500 youth that they had trained earlier to raise arms and capture the Eritrean soldiers.

Simultaneously, members of the TPLF Special Forces and militia in the Adet area entered the city to fight in Axum. Meanwhile, the former mayor of the city of Axum joined the TPLF forces in the woods, wrote a letter ordering for the distribution of weapons stored in five locations, including those stolen from the ENDF’s Northern Command. At one location alone, 400 units of weapons were withdrawn as per the direction of the latter. This was confirmed by testimonies from the youth, as well as members of the Special Forces.

After such preparation, the TPLF forces had opened an attack on the Eritrean soldiers who were settled in the mountainous area of the city. The heavy fighting between the forces took from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM until ENDF’s help had arrived. At this moment, the TPLF forces had backed to city. According to the words of the 95 witnesses, 93 individuals had been killed due to the fight. According to the same testimony, it is established that the great majority of those killed in the said incident, though they were not in uniform, were members of the fighting force of TPLF who engaged the Eritrean forces and ENDF.

In relation to allegations of rape, to this date, testimonies of 116 victims of rape have been recorded by the police. The criminal investigation has managed to identify members of the Federal Police and ENDF involved in the crime. As a result, the case with the members of the Federal Police has been transferred to the Regional Prosecution Office whereas the case of members of ENDF who was alleged to involve in the crime has been transferred to the military court.

Due to TPLF’s sinister act manifested in the release of tens of thousands of notorious criminals from prison and attiring them with ENDF’s and Eritrean military uniforms, it has been found to the investigation team extremely difficult to identify the culprits of the offence. The investigation is still underway and investigators are identifying the perpetrators of the crimes mentioned above and are gathering further evidence that would uncover the offences and bring the perpetrators to justice. The investigation team is still collecting testimonies from religious leaders and funeral service providers as well as collecting medical evidence from medical institutions. It is the firm belief of the Attorney General that with strong collaboration between federal and regional law enforcement agencies and with the relentless support from the people, the law enforcement mission will succeed with its objective in bringing peace and security to the region and ensuring the accountability of the perpetrators of the crimes before justice.


Source: Attorney General of Ethiopia 

Latest News

Browse all
Following discussions with the management of Busby Auctioneers and Valuers, an agreement has been reached, today, on the withdrawal of two Ethiopian artefacts that were due to go to auction on 17th June 2021. The Embassy will remain in dialogue with Busby on arrangements for the return of the items to their rightful home in Ethiopia.
16 Jun 2021
Busby withdraws looted Ethiopian artefacts from auction
Ethiopia is dismayed by the “Resolution” of the Executive Council of the League of Arab States on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issued on 15 June 2021 after its meeting held in Doha, Qatar. Ethiopia rejects the “Resolution” in its entirety. In fact, this is not the first time the League of Arab States issued a statement regarding its…
15 Jun 2021
Statement on the Resolution of the League of Arab States on the GERD
Press Briefing by H.E. Sani Redi, State Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Kinfe Hailemariam, Deputy Director General at the National Meteorology Agency, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, on key highlights of the week and recent developments in agricultural intervention in Tigray ahead of the planting season
15 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Office Press Briefing – 15 June 2021
Ethiopian Airlines has resumed direct passenger flights between Addis Ababa and London Heathrow effective 12th June 2021. As per UK government guidelines, only British and Irish nationals, and those with residence rights in the UK, will be permitted to travel to the UK from Ethiopia.
14 Jun 2021
Ethiopian Airlines resumes flights to London Heathrow
In a pre-recorded video message, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, said Ethiopia is disappointed by the campaign that is being waged against its handling of the situation in the Tigray region.
12 Jun 2021
Message from Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen to the International Community on the Humanitarian Response in Tigray
The Brief is a bi-weekly publication from the Ethiopian Embassy in London covering current affairs in Ethiopia. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive The Brief in your inbox.
11 Jun 2021
Debunking 5 popular misconceptions of the situation in Ethiopia
Press Briefing by Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, Mr. Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner for the National Disaster Risk Management Commission, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, on key highlights of the week and recent developments in Tigray - Full transcript and video
9 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Press Briefing – 9 June 2021
The Embassy rejects, in the strongest terms, unsubstantiated allegations that starvation is being used “as a weapon of war” in Tigray. The Ethiopian Government takes its responsibility to end the current suffering of the people of Tigray very seriously and has so far made concerted efforts to comprehensively respond to the humanitarian needs on the ground, in coordination with local…
5 Jun 2021
Statement on Allegations of the Use of “Starvation as a Weapon of War” in Tigray
Press Briefing by Dr Gedion Timothewos, Attorney General, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, on recent developments in Tigray and the upcoming elections - Full Video and Transcript
3 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Office Press Briefing – 3 June 2021
With new reforms underway in Ethiopia, and with the production of quality and competitive products for export and the domestic market in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector being a key focus area of the nation’s Ten Year Perspective Development Plan, opportunities exist for investment and trade in this sector.
3 Jun 2021
Webinar | Doing Business in Ethiopia: Opportunities for Investment and Export in the Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Industries
Following the official launch of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in April 2011, Ethiopia proposed setting up a tripartite committee and a range of fora, which eventually led to the adoption of the Declaration of Principles on GERD (DoP) in March 2015, signed by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to facilitate the trilateral dialogue. Principally, the DoP underlined the critical…
31 May 2021
Neither politicisation nor sabotage should guide policies over the Nile