Reports of the airstrike at the Dedebit camp in northwestern Tigray came a day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed issued a message of reconciliation for Christmas after 14 months of war.

The hospital in the town of Shire where victims were taken reported at least 55 people dead and 126 injured, according to an official in Tigray’s capital Mekele.
Dozens of people have been killed in a drone strike on a camp for people displaced by the war in northern Ethiopia, Tigrayan rebels have said.

Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said on Twitter on Saturday that an attack on the camp in the small town of Dedebit in northwestern Tigray “has claimed the lives of 56 innocent civilians so far”.

The report could not be independently verified and there was no immediate response to requests for comment from Ethiopian government officials.

However, a senior official at the main hospital in Tigray’s capital Mekele told AFP that the hospital in the town of Shire where the victims were taken had reported 55 people dead and 126 injured.
Brutal conflict

The TPLF has been fighting Ethiopian army and its allies loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since November 2020 in a brutal conflict that has killed thousands of people and created a deep humanitarian crisis.

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TPLF rebel forces withdrew to their stronghold in Tigray at the end of December in the face of a military offensive that saw government forces retake a string of strategic towns.

There has been something of a lull in fighting since the TPLF retreat, although the rebels accuse the government of continuing to carry out deadly drone attacks on Tigray, the northernmost region of Ethiopia.

The UN reported this week that three Eritrean refugees including two children had been killed in an air strike on a refugee camp in Tigray on Wednesday.

The region is under what the United Nations has called a de facto blockade that is preventing desperately needed supplies from reaching its six million people.

Access to Tigray is restricted and the region remains under a communications blackout, making it difficult to verify battlefield claims.
Albanian police have intervened to move away protesters who broke into the headquarters of the country’s main opposition party in an internal squabble over the party’s leadership.

Police used a water cannon truck and tear gas, and scores of officers pushed away hundreds of protesters who had stormed the ground floor of the centre-right Democratic Party’s headquarters on Saturday.

They detained and removed some protesters, and at least one injured person was seen.

A group led by former party leader Sali Berisha used iron bars and hammers to break open the main doors of the building.

Berisha is trying to remove the Democrats’ leader, Lulzim Basha, whom he accuses of being a “hostage” of Prime Minister Edi Rama of the left-wing Socialist Party.

“Today the Democrats and Albania’s democrats will turn the bunker of hostage (Lulzim) Basha into their house of freedom,” Berisha said, pledging to continue the protest.

Party staff used tear gas to try to prevent them breaking in before police intervened.

The party in a statement said that “today’s acts of violence against the Democratic Party mark Sali Berisha’s final isolation and a shameful move out of the political scene.”
Rising tensions

US Ambassador in Tirana Yuri Kim expressed concern at the “rising tensions” at the Democrats’ building and called on protesters “to reject violence and exercise calm.”

“Those inciting violence or undermining the rule of law will be held accountable,” she posted on Twitter.

Basha fired Berisha from the parliamentary group in September 2020, following an intervention in May by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Blinken said in a statement that during Berisha’s 2005-2013 tenure as prime minister, the politician “was involved in corrupt acts … using his power for his own benefit and to enrich his political allies and his family members.”

Blinken said Berisha interfered in “independent investigations, anticorruption efforts, and accountability measures” and “undermined democracy in Albania.”

Last month US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar said there would be “consequences” if the Democratic Party chose someone to be leader who had been designated persona non grata by Washington.

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