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Press Freedom Group Calls for Release of Media Members in Ethiopia

FILE - An Ethiopian streams a video of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking, at an internet cafe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nov. 26, 2020. Journalists say a government-imposed blackout in Ethiopia has made it difficult to document the fighting in Tigray.

An influential press freedom group called on Ethiopia Tuesday to release journalists and workers arrested by government and allied troops as they battled forces loyal to the government in the Tigray region.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said at least four journalists and media workers were detained recently in Tigray’s capital of Mekelle in response to their attempts to cover the conflict.

The independent New York-based group said two translators working with Agence France-Presse and the Financial Times and a local journalist were arrested on Feb. 27, citing the AFP and the Financial Times and two journalists who spoke anonymously.

A reporter with the British Broadcasting Corporation was arrested on Monday in Mekelle and detained at a local military camp, according to the BBC.

“The scarcity of independent reporting coming out of Tigray during this conflict was already deeply alarming,” CPJ sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo said in a statement. “Now, the Ethiopian military’s arrests of journalists and media workers will undoubtedly lead to fear and self-censorship.”

AFP and the Financial Times said they received permission to report on developments in the Tigray region, which had been off limits to most international media since the fighting began in November between the national government and the transitional government of Tigray, which once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

Thousands of people have been killed in the region of some six million people, and the United Nations said recently the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting escalates.