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East Sudan residents say bodies seen in river bordering Ethiopia

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Residents of an east Sudanese town said Monday they had seen bodies washing up the river on the border with Ethiopia's conflict-hit Tigray region in recent days.

The unidentified bodies were floating on the Setit River -- known in Ethiopia as the Tekeze, which runs through its northern Tigray region -- since Saturday, according to residents from Wad al-Hilou in Sudan's Kassala state.

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"The bodies I saw today were wounded and had their hands tied," one witness told AFP by telephone on Monday, declining to be identified.

Tefera Tewodoros, an Ethiopian doctor working at Sudan's Hamdayit refugee transit centre on the border, said he saw nine bodies of men and women at the river on Monday alone.

"We also saw 28 bodies on Saturday and Sunday in Wad al-Hilou, mostly of men with gunshots on different parts of their bodies," he said.

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A fisherman living in the area who requested anonymity said he also saw bodies lying on the riverbanks.

Images circulated online purporting to show bodies washed up by the river. AFP was unable to immediately verify the authenticity of the images.

Fighting in Tigray broke out in November between Ethiopia's federal forces and the region's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, said his forces' move into the region was in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.

The conflict has killed thousands and sent tens of thousands fleeing into neighbouring Sudan.

Ethiopia's government on Monday said reports of a massacre in the town of Humera, in western Tigray, were "fake", claiming "propagandists" were "using false images and showing graphic images" to spread disinformation.

The Tekeze River runs through Humera.

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