Home Topics Business Hundreds of buildings burned in the city of Tigray, according to a...

Hundreds of buildings burned in the city of Tigray, according to a research group

© Reuters. The satellite image from Planet Labs Inc shows an overview of the residential structures destroyed by fire in the city of Gijet in the Ethiopian region of Tigray


NAIROBI (Reuters) – Fires that appear to have been deliberately destroyed destroyed more than 500 buildings in and around Ethiopia’s city of Gijet this week. Analysis of the satellite imagery shared with Reuters found that reports of ongoing conflict in parts of the north region of Tigray are becoming more credible.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared victory over a rebellious regional force, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), in late November after its fighters withdrew from major cities in the region. However, sporadic fighting continues in some parts of Tigray, according to residents and the United Nations.

The government has acknowledged isolated shooting incidents but said that most of the fighting in Tigray has stopped.

Mulu Nega, head of Tigray’s government-appointed interim administration, told Reuters that he had sent a team to the Gijet area to conduct an investigation.

The DX Open Network, a UK-based security research organization, analyzed images collected by private satellite operator Planet Labs on Sunday and Tuesday near Gijet and three nearby settlements, about 35 km southwest of the regional capital, Mekelle in Tigray.

They showed at least 508 structures that appeared to have been destroyed by fire during that period, the network said, citing blackening of soil and vegetation, cinder circles indicating a roof collapse, and debris from collapsed walls and ceilings.

A fire alarm service run by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which uses visible and infrared images from space, discovered numerous fires in the region on Monday, according to its website.

The DX Open Network said the absence of clusters of burns or burn marks connecting burned structures in the analyzed images made it unlikely that all fires were accidental and there was no evidence of craters to suggest they were the result could be of fire.

“These factors support the analytical judgment that this was a deliberate effort by one party to the conflict to destroy this civilian residential area and not the product of a struggle,” the analysis said. It was not clear from the pictures who could have started the fire.

The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman and the head of a government task force for Tigray did not respond to comments. Reuters has not been able to reach TPLF officials since early December.

Both sides of the Tigray conflict, which began in early November, have accused each other of abuse and denied responsibility for its implementation.

Reuters couldn’t phone people in the area. Communication with Tigray remains patchy and the government tightly controls access to the media.

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