Ethiopia says Eritrean troops have started withdrawing

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said Eritrean forces have started withdrawing from the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia - following mounting reports blaming the Eritreans for human rights abuses including rape, looting and killings of civilians.

The United States, Germany, France and other G7 countries this week called for a swift and verifiable withdrawal of the Eritrean soldiers, followed by a political process acceptable to all Ethiopians.

For months, Eritrea and Ethiopia denied the presence of Eritrean troops despite dozens of eyewitness accounts. Just last month, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed acknowledged their presence.

While Eritrea has still not said its soldiers are there.

Ethiopia sent its troops to Tigray in November to fight against the TPLF, then the regional ruling party, which had attacked army bases in the region. In late November, the TPLF withdrew and the Ethiopian government declared victory.

Electricity and phone connections to Tigray have been down for the past four days, making it difficult to verify any Eritrean withdrawal.

Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine in the region.