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Brief Information on the Crimes Committed and Horrendous Situtaion Inflicted on the People of Zalambessa and Its Surroundings by the Military Forces of Eritrea and Ethiopia

Zalambessa Alumni Committee
Tigrai Online March. 27, 2021

I. General

The killings and sufferings inflicted by the combined plan and military forces of the Eritrean and Ethiopia governments as well as militia, special forces and vagabonds of the Amhara region on Tigray region and its people with the aim to  extricate Tegaru from their land is incredibly devastating and horrifying.  The world is well informed about the undergoing crime of the forces through various mechanisms though there are yet unravelled crimes of the forces since it has not been easy to move from place to place and document all available information on the ground.  The same is true to situation that took place in Zalambessa and the surrounding areas. The atrocities inflicted on Zalambessa and the surroundings were just next to the crimes acted by the criminal forces on the Western Zone of the Tigray Region but it could not be possible to get detail information so far. Now it is attempted to organize some information through informal ways since it is not possible to conduct formal and detail study. Nevertheless, the data documented and attached herewith is believed to reveal the horrific situation. Hereunder is brief summary. 


  • It was on 13 November 2020 starting from as early as 5:00 a.m that Zalanbessa was bombed by heavy artillery for 13 consecutive hours that was shot from the Eritrea area indiscriminately. As the result a number of buildings and other infrastructures are destroyed and more than 9 persons killed. Then both forces went house to house arbitrarily killing civilians. They prohibited burials that resulted in corpses to be eaten by hyenas and dogs.
  • The forces are inhuman enough that committed crimes not expected to take place in this 21st century. It indiscriminately killed civilians just at their residence homes by knocking their houses and immediately shooting whoever is found there as well as whoever is found at the road. So far data on 86 civilians killed by the Eritrean and Ethiopian military forces is found as could be read from the table attached herewith that show names, age, job, date of death, burial place, etc.
  • The indiscriminate killings have included the whole age group that ranges from a one year kid who is not in a position to understand what is going on, up to a 97 years old person who cannot easily move because of old-age.  The criminal acts are committed in accordance to the directions and orientations of the leaderships like Balcha Debelle as explained by those who surrendered to the Tigray forces during that period.
  • Jobs of the killed civilians are different from whom 19 were students and 54 of them are males, while 9 are priests (four not identified their name). 46 of them are (9 by artillery 37 by directly by bullet) killed by the Eritrean force while 40 are killed by the forces of Ethiopia (see the attached tables).
  • Parents were forced to see their children being shot to death and children to see their parents being shot to death by the criminals in front of them. The incredible criminal acts include killings of spouses. To name few:

- Priest Esayas Haile and his wife W/ro Mebrhit Hailu (seriel number 16 and 17 in table 2)

-  Ato Gebre Kahsay and his wife W/ro Tamenesh Tesfay (serial number 36 and 37 in table 2)

- Haleka Tewolde Adhanom and his wife W/ro Minia Embafrash (serial number 38 and 39 in table 2)

6. The brief information informs the killings of civilians only, does not show the destructions, the lootings committed by the aggressors. Though could not be possible to know the details of the constructions and lootings because of the impossibilities to conduct detail study, it suffices to state the looting includes taking of unexpected and shameful materials like used pant not to mention taking of the worthy possessions of the households.

The atrocities inflicted by the aggressors over the civilian residents of Zalambessa town and the surrounding areas are broadly put above. The crimes committed by the forces are innumerable and difficult to exhaustively show its highly offensive and inhuman acts.  However, the following are highlighted as case studies.

II. Cases

Case 1: Story of Ato Gebre Kahsay and his wife W/ro Tamenesh Tesfay 


During the start of shelling of the aggressors over Zalambessa town, the spouses were asleep at their home with their 3 year old grandson. The Ethiopian and Eritrean military forces knocked the door and ordered the spouses to open the door. The persons could do nothing but to open. Then as they opend the door, they were immediately shoot to death.  As the kid was asleep, he did not know what was going on. In fact he is not at the age to understand what is done even if he had been awake. As he walk up he did not know that his parents were killed and rather tried to awake them. As hours passed, he became hungry and was forced to cry since his continuous try to make his parents wake up was nonresponsive. His cry continued for three days until someone came back from his the place he fled to look his home and when bypassing heard the cry of the kid and rescued him. It is so horrible to see a kid having passed three days with bodies of his parents with out knowing what has happened and with out getting any food. It is difficult to emagine what psychological problems the kid would have. On top of that no one was in nearby to perform the cultural and religious forms of burial ceremony and as the result the bodies of the spouses was buried within their residence home and still has remained there.

Case 2: Story of Diaqon Tewolde Adhanom and his wife W/ro Minia Embafrash

The spouses were at their home while the cruel forces came and knocked their door. Similar to what has happened on the spouses indicated as case one, they were shot to death as they opened the door. Cruelty of the forces is manifested also in the way they treat the bodies highly deviating from the cultural and religious practices. It is difficult to express and explain the acts of the criminals. As the bodies lay down on the ground, the forces killed 30 goats of the household and ate the meat just sitting by the side of the bodies.  It is why the war waged against Tigray is recognized as a total war by intellectuals since it is planned and practically put in to action to be inclusive to cover devastation on the political, economical, social, cultural affairs and heritages of the Tigray people. The bodies got burial in their compound after 12 days.   

Case 3: Story of Family of Priest Esayas Haile

 Cruelity of the criminal forces is extraordinary that is practiced indiscriminately on all segments of the Tegaru Pepole. The forces killed the priest with his wife and shot their daughter who was carrying her kid brother/sister at her back. The criminals assumed that she was shot to death but fortunately she survived but wounded and was hospitalized in a hospital. When intervied she was crying and saying “The forces killed my parents.” The writer of this information lacks the current situation of the girl, but it is difficult to emagine the extent of the psychological problems she would be having even for the long run.


Case 4: Story of Ato Semere Tekie 

Only three days passed since wife of Ato Semere got birth of her kid. So, Ato Semere had to handle his wife as no one was to support her during her maternity. As the result, he was with his wife within their home while the residens were fleeing to somewhere they thought relatively safe. Then the criminal soldiers came and knocked the door. Infront of his wife, Semere was shot down to death. And they further ordered her not to bury the body. Then she put a cover on the body and was forced to pass two days with the boby of her husband. Next, she somehow buried the body within the house. Then she left the house and rent another since the pain and misery is unbearable to live in the house.  It is difficult to emagine the trauma the women is having.    

Case 5: Story of Family of Ato Berhane Kiros 

 Ato Berhane and his wife were not at home while the misery was taking place. But two of their children, mother of the wife and another person were hidden in the house.  The criminal forces opened the house and killed all the four members of the family including the one neighbor who was sheltered with them. No body was aware what has happened on the family members since Ato Berhane and his wife were not back home and the community has fled to somewhere. It was after 10 days when some bad smelling was sensed in the area that the whereabout bodies was identified. Then the bodies were buried within the house.

 Case 6: Story of Ato Demewoz Hagos 

The appalling atrocity inflicted upon Tigray region and Tegaru by the inhuman and evil-minded military forces of Eritrea and Ethiopiaa and by the Amhara forcess as well are bound-less. Their cruelity is unimaginable. They do not allow parents of affected persons even to burry body of killed persons let allon to perform their religious and cultural ceremonies in that regard. So, they keep their pains inside which is very hurting in different forms. The forces do not allow taking even wounded persons to health centers. This is what has happened on Ato Demewoz Hagos. His daughter was shot by artillery and wounded and he had to carry her to take her to a health center. But he was shot to death by the forces on the way he was going to the health center carrying his daughter. His burial was conducted after 12 days.


Case 7: Story of Ato Yemane W/mariam and Kehase Alay

35 years old Yemane and a 20 years youth Kehase were killed by the criminal forces. The killers put cuctus over the bodies and then covered it with hay which was difficult to know their where about they are. But it was found after 12 days when bad smell was felt in the area.

Case 8: Story of Group Masacre

Indiscriminate killing of an old man of 95 years old together with youths is among the crimes commited by the cruel forces. The persons who where in the group include

  • Ato Teklu Tella 95 years old
  • Youth G/berhan
  • Youth Micheale Zeru
  • YouthG/egzeabher G/medhin
  • Whose name is not identified who son of Ato Fitwi Meles
  • Other two youths whose name is not identified

The individuals were gathered to scape from shellings of artilleries and sheltered in a building they thought relatively safe. But the fascists came and killed all the persons taking out from the building.     

Case 9: Story of other civilians who were killed on the way back to their homes 

The fascists had no causes to kill civilians but they shoot and kill simply whoever and wherever they get individuals. As the result the criminals killed the following persons on 17 November 2020 on the way while they were going back to look their repective homes while there was no any war in the area.  The following are the subjects of the evil.

  • Ato Berhane Kiros
  • Ato Haile Mirach
  •  Ato Haile Akelom
  • Ato fitsum G/dingl
  • Ato haagos W/gerima
  • Ato Yikalo Zeru

Case 10:  Story of Religious Leaders 

Since aim of the fascists is to put an end to the living of all Tegaru, all segment of the society have been subjects of their acts. Hence, Priests of the area were also targets. As the result

  • Priest Gebre Tesfay while he was reading the bible
  • Priest G/tsadik G/slassie
  • Priest Esayas Haile with his wife
  • Priest Hagos Tesfahiwot
  • Priest Ermias G/slassie
  • Other four priests whose name is not identified

 were shot to death.

Case 11:  Story of Family of W/ro Senait G/egzeabher

As stated earlier, Kids also are not free of the sufferings. Family of W/ro Senait is clear example of the statement. Senait was shot and killed by the forces of Eritrea just infornt of her three kids. The kids had to pass three days with body of their mother. The burial was done after 8 days. Can one emagin how terrifying the acts of the fascists are? The trauma and the feeling of hoplessness the kids would have is unimaginable.

Case 12:  Story of Ato Bahre Tesfay

Suffering is taken as part of the crime. The crime is still going on. Within the month of January 2021 Ato Bahre was killed by repeated hits with stones by the forces.    


III. Other violations:

The types of crims committed by the Ethioian and Eritrean military forces as well as the Amhara forces are many. Apart from the killings, the following violations were also committed by the fascists:  

  • Rape
  • Looting of possessions of residents and of public facilities
  • Taking by force and butchering animals that belong to farmers
  • Using services without payment
  • Taking things from shops without payment
  • Insulting, beating, mishandling, etc. elders  
  • Forcing the youth to dig fortresses, carry weapons; and then kill them

You can read more names and where people were killed and other statistics Read More here