On 8 and 9 January (the days following Christmas in Tigray), the Ethiopian army massacred more than 100 civilians in Bora villages in southern Tigray in vengeance, after the army sustained heavy casualties in a fight with local militia.
Tghat first reported a massacre at Bora Selewa on 12 January, 2021. We reported that the massacre took place on 10 January. We have learned that the main massacre took place on 8 followed by some more massacres on 9 and 10.
First, on the Tigrayan Christmas day of 7 January, 13 military trucks full of Ethiopian soldiers arrived at the town of Bora. They started firing to the villages, terrorizing the entire area. The next day, early in the morning, local militias gathered and engaged the soldiers starting from as early as 5 AM. The fighting lasted until 19 PM. Several reinforcement trucks full with soldiers came from Adi Shihu. The Ethiopian soldiers sustained a huge number of casualties, said eyewitnesses. Some eyewitnesses estimated up to 700 Ethiopian soldiers were killed in the day-long fight.
Eyewitnesses said the Ethiopian soldiers were angry. A part of the Ethiopian troops went to Bora town around 14PM and started massacring villagers, even old people. “It was just a pure vengeance “, said eyewitnesses. One eyewitness said he saw soldiers entering an old woman’s house and killing her in her house.
The main massacre took place in the Bora town (Gra Demo area), then in the villages of Chelena, Wa’ero, Mebal, Mai LiHam and Qilma. In Gra Demo area of Bora, the soldiers killed people in their houses and outside. They killed two or three members in one household.
The Ethiopian soldiers took their soldiers in trucks via Maichew out of Tigray. In a village called Midre Wessen, the Ethiopian soldiers were moving their dead with military trucks. They came across a priest, stopped him and asked if he had seen the militia. He replied that he did not see. Then they killed him, accusing him of lying.
The militia eventually retreated to Ayi area. On 9 January 2021, the Ethiopian soldiers moved to the countrysides and killed many people. They asked people to show them the militia and when they could not, they killed them. They killed many in Chelena.
In the village of Qilma, everyone fled the area before the military entered it. Only old people and some men were there. Kahsay Qeshi Kiros’s family also fled, but he remained tending his bees and his chicken. The Ethiopian Soldiers took Kahsay Qeshi Kiros and his nephew (who was a priest) and made them haul water for them the whole day. Eyewitnesses said they heard gun shot at night at where the soldiers were keeping them. The next day, the soldiers left the area and villagers found that Kahsay Qeshi Kiros was slaughtered with a knife and his nephew was shot dead.
Eyewitnesses estimate the number of massacred people to be between 100 and 150. Massacres took places mainly in the town of Bora (especially in an area called Gra demo (ግራ ደሞ), Chamela (ጫመላ) where several houses have also been burned, Adi Shegla (ዓዲ ሸግላ), Midre Wessen, Qilma (ቅልማ), Azebo (ኣዜቦ), and Fre Weyane.
The Elderly (mostly woman) toiled to bury the dead for many days. Many are buried at Abune Aregawi church.
After about 3 days many cars with military leaders came from Mekelle and the old and weak that remained in the villages gathered. The elders asked why so much massacre was committed upon them and pleaded for an end. The military officers, with no sign of sympathy, replied “if you continue to fight us, we will finish you off; we won’t even spare your chickens”.
The military remained in the area terrorizing the villagers. At the moment, the area has been retaken by Tigray Defence Forces. There is no electricity or telephone services.