U.S. Agency Says Tigray Forces Looted Aid Depots in Ethiopia

Rebels in Ethiopia’s Tigray region looted warehouses containing emergency aid for civilians in the Amhara region, where fierce fighting is continuing with troops loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a U.S. official said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has proof that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front emptied warehouses and caused widespread destruction in Amhara in recent weeks, Sean Jones, a USAID mission director to Ethiopia, said in an interview with Ethiopian state television.

Violence that erupted in Tigray in November spread to Amhara in June, when TPLF fighters took back control of their region further north and routed government forces.

“What we do have proof of is that several of our warehouses have been looted and completely emptied in the areas, particularly Amhara,” he said on Tuesday. Tigrayan fighters looted trucks and “caused a great deal of destruction in all the villages they have visited,” Jones said.

Getachew Reda, a senior member of the TPLF, denied that Tigray forces were behind the looting of the warehouses.

“While we cannot vouch for every unacceptable behavior of off-grid fighters in such matters, we have evidence that such looting is mainly orchestrated by local individuals and groups,” Getachew said via Twitter on Wednesday. “It is our position we can address this through independent investigation.”

The conflict in Ethiopia, which erupted after Abiy accused the TPLF of attacking a federal military base, has scarred the nation’s reputation as one of Africa’s top investment destinations and sent its Eurobonds plummeting. Ethiopia’s army was forced to withdraw from Tigray in June and a counter-offensive by the TPLF has since spread into neighboring regions including Amhara and Afar, displacing tens of thousands of people,

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