Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 31 –An Ethiopian aid worker died after being struck by a stray bullet in the country’s northern Tigray region, his Italian employer said Monday, the ninth such death in the conflict there.
Negasi Kidane, based in the Tigray town of Adigrat, was a longtime employee of the International Committee for the Development of Peoples, known by its Italian acronym CISP.
“I can confirm that our Ethiopian colleague Negasi Kidane, head of the CISP office in Adigrat, lost his life last Saturday. He was accidentally involved in a fire fight on Friday evening and died on Saturday morning in the hospital,” Sandro De Luca, the group’s director and legal representative, told AFP in an email.
He added that Negasi was “hit by a stray bullet.”
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November to detain and disarm leaders of the regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
He said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.
Though he vowed military operations would be brief, nearly seven months later fighting continues, reports of atrocities are proliferating and world leaders are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.
As of last week eight aid workers had been killed in Tigray, according to a briefing at the UN Security Council by Mark Lowcock, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.
One of the victims was a “partner” with the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
In a statement last week, USAID administrator Samantha Power said that killing was “reportedly by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers” and that it “was clearly intentional and is part of a troubling rise in harassment and violence against aid workers.”
CISP did not say who might have been responsible for Negasi’s death.
“Negasi worked with CISP for many years and we all remember him for the extraordinary commitment and ability with which he carried out the humanitarian aid activities that the communities of Tigray — affected by hunger and conflict — desperately need,” the group said in a statement on its Facebook page.
“While mourning for this tragedy, we cling to the hope that in Tigray the path of dialogue and reconciliation will be found soon.”