On 25 January 2021, Berhe Reda (35), a mechanic, waved goodbye to his wife, his daughter  and his baby boy and went to his newly established garage. There is no business in Aksum, but he just found the idea of going to work reassuring than spending the day at home. His mechanical garage was new, established before the war. His friend, an eletrical engineer also works in the garage.
Berhe spent the day at his garage, and around 6 PM Berhe and his friend were on their way to their houses. They reached his friend’s house which is at the back of Berhe’s. A soldier in Ethiopian uniform came and demanded “identity card’, the only word he said. The friend took out his identity card and Berhe thrusted his hand to his pocket to take out his too. At this moment, another soldier shot at Berhe at point-blank range, Berhe fell immediately and the friend frantically ran and jumped into a sewerage. He survived. Berhe remembers only the gunshot and nothing after that.
Berhe Reda was hit by a bullet. He fell on the ground and spent the night lying there and soaked in blood. Since it was past curfew time, nobody could dare to come out for that means being shot at. But all neighbors heard the gunshot and the cries of pain at night. But the soldiers were there the whole night making sure nobody comes out. Berhe says sometime in the night, he was a bit conscious and he felt the coldness of the night. He moved his hand to feel his face and he realized he was disfigured and was socking in blood. He tried to get up (to no avail), and call for help, but he does not know whether it was loud or not. Nobody came out anyways.
In the morning, his neighbors upon seeing he was not dead, rushed him to Aksum Hospital with a Bajaj (tuktuk). The neighbors also found the identity card of his friend at that spot. He was given some treatment at the hospital, but he was immediately referred to Mekelle Ayder Referal Hospital, since his wound was severe and the hospital is barely operational. But there was no ambulance to take him and he had to wait until 24 February 2021. Even then, it was just an MSF Toyota Landcruiser that brought him to Mekelle. Berhe and his wife, Selamawit, speak about the many checkpoints and attempts to block him from going to Mekelle. Around Agula’e, he says soldiers ordered that he comes out, and one soldier entered the car and upon seeing his face said “okay, if the wound was on his feet we would not let him pass, but this one can go”.
The bullet that hit Berhe entered on his left side and exited on his right side, destroying both of his eyes, breaking his nose’s bones and his upper left jaw to such an extent that his entire left jaw was just hanging loosely.
Selamawit, his wife, said she heard the gunshot, and the cries of pain during the night. Although she was worried about her husband and had the gut feeling that it might be him, she hoped against it, since she could not go out anyway. Besides, “it is a common thing to hear gunshots at night in Aksum”, she said. She saw him in the hospital for the first time and she said she was in shock. Her daughter also saw him, and Selamawit says she has not yet recovered from that. “she is changed”, she said. The family is now all in Mekelle taking care of Berhe. Selamawit says of their daughter “she is traumatized. She says ‘we will never go back to Aksum; there are soldiers who will kill us'”. Selamawit, a house wife, says she does not know how to keep living. She adds “we are victims, but the entire people of Tigray too. A solution must be found for Tigray”.
When the sun sets, the killing starts in Tigray’s cities and towns. Gunshots are common starting from 5 PM and news of killed people in the morning is routine. In every city and town in Tigray, every morning residents learn about who had been killed the night before.