List of massacres committed during the Eritrean War of Independence

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The Eritrean War of Independence was fought as a guerrilla campaign by two main Eritrean liberation fronts, first by the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and then, after the Eritrean Civil War, by the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) against the Imperial Army of the Ethiopian Empire, and later by the Marxist Derg. This asymmetrical campaign against Ethiopian control left the Army at a disadvantage and so it embarked on a policy of destroying Eritrean villages.[citation needed] It was hoped that this would prevent the separatists from continuing their campaign. Listed below are some of the major civilian massacres committed by both the Ethiopian Empire and the Derg.


Date Deaths Location Description of event
1967-07-24 172 Hazemo Several villages wiped out and the throats of men slit in front of their wives and children.[1][2]
Late 1967 Approx 50 Akordat Students suspected of being members of the ELF were hanged in the centre of town. Parents of the slain were forced, by the Ethiopian Army, to unhang their dead children and take them home.[3]
1970-01-17 60 Elabared The village elders were rounded up for supporting the Eritrean Liberation Front and killed.[4]
1970-11-30 120 Besikdira The entire village was rounded up into the local mosque and the mosque's doors were locked, the building was then razed and survivors were shot.[2][5]
1970-12-01 800+ Ona Ethiopian Army units surrounded the village killing civilians and burning down the village.[6]
1974-07-10 170+[2] Om Hajer
1974-12-28 45[7] Asmara Students were strangled to death using piano strings, their bodies were dumped in alleyways and doorsteps.
1971 Approx 70 Keren Students and youth suspected of supporting the ELF were publicly executed by hanging. Family members were forced to attend the execution and cut down their children from the noose.
1975-02-14 331–500, 3000[8][9] Asmara, Surrounding villages Shortly after an EPLF attack on two Ethiopian divisions, Ethiopian troops fire upon civilians gathered in Churches, homes and schools.
1975-02-02 80[2]-103[4] Woki Duba During an engagement with the EPLF and ELF the Ethiopian Army attacked the church where villagers had taken refuge.
1975-03-09 258[4] Agordat After several ELF attacks on the town the Ethiopian Army retaliated on the local population.
1975-04-17 235[2]-470[10] Hirgigo
August 1975 ~250 Om Hajer The villagers were machine gunned in front of a river to prevent escape.[4]
1976-12-30 105[9] Hirgigo
1985-10-19 39[2] Mogoraib
April 1988 3 Agordat Killed by aerial attacks.50 ELF Martyr[11] Eritrea
1988-05-04 unknown Shebah[2]
1988-12-05 400+[12] She'eb The dead were mostly women and children as the men had moved to the towns to eke out a living for their impoverished village.[4]
3–4 April 1990 67 killed, 125 wounded Afabet Aerial attacks[11]
24 April 1990 50 killed, 110 wounded Massawa Aerial attacks, cluster bombs[13]

Throughout the conflict Ethiopia used "anti-personnel gas"[14] and weapons of mass destruction.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "40th anniversary of Hazemo Massacre commemorated". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Eritrean Martyrs' Day". Retrieved 26 September 2006.
  3. ^ {Wrong, Michelle, " I didn't do it for you", pg 227, image 1.}
  4. ^ a b c d e Killion, Tom (1998). Historical Dictionary of Eritrea. The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3437-5.
  5. ^ Louise Latt. "Eritrea Re-photographed: Landscape Changes in the Eritrean Highlands 1890–2004" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2006. Retrieved 26 September 2006. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "Dates in Eritrean History". Retrieved 26 September 2006.
  7. ^ "The Montreal Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  8. ^ "The Milwaukee Journal – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  9. ^ a b "The Saturday Citizen – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  10. ^ "32nd Anniversary of Hirgigo Massacre marked". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2007.
  11. ^ a b Africa Watch, Ethiopia: "Mengistu has Decided to Burn Us like Wood": Bombing of Civilians and Civilian Targets by the Air Force, 24 July 1990
  12. ^ "Lives Shaped By War" (Press release). National Union of Eritrean Women.
  13. ^ New York Times
  14. ^ Johnson, Michael; Johnson, Trish (April 1981). "Eritrea: The National Question and the Logic of Protracted Struggle". African Affairs. 80 (319): 181–195.