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AP: Bodies in Sudan river latest evidence of ethnic killings in Tigray

In this image from video obtained by The Associated Press, Refugees from Ethiopia recover a body found in the Setit River, known in Ethiopia as Tekeze River, at Wad el Hilu, Sudan, in an Aug. 4, 2021 photo obtained by AP. The AP reported dozens of bodies floating down the river in early August and saw six of the graves. Doctors who saw the bodies said one was tattooed with a common name in the Tigrinya language and others had the facial markings common among Tigrayans, raising fresh alarm about atrocities in the least-known area of the Tigray war. (AP Photo)

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Sudan freelance video journalist Mohaned Awad, Cairo reporter Samy Magdy and East Africa correspondent Cara Anna were the first to report on dozens of bodies, many found mutilated and with their hands bound, found floating in the border river that separates Sudan from the conflict-torn Ethiopian province of Tigray. The bodies are evidence of continued atrocities being committed on the other side of the border amid a communications blackout and virtually zero access to Tigray, where ethnic killings by Ethiopian forces and their allies have frequently been reported during the nine-month war.

Strong source work and compelling visual storytelling put the AP well ahead on the story. Tigrayan refugees in Sudan alerted Anna and Magdy to the appearance of bodies, and a refugee surgeon traveled to the site to get images. Magdy also got key confirmation from a Sudanese official — countering Ethiopian government claims that such reports are fabricated by Tigrayans for propaganda. Anna also spoke to refugee doctors for more details.

AP broke the story hours ahead of major competitors and was also first with visuals from the border area — the surgeon’s images obtained by Magdy and a strong pieced-together visual narrative produced and shot by Awad. He was the first journalist to reach the scene to visually confirm at least six graves with witness accounts, which Anna wrote up as an Only on AP text story.

The work had a major impact in Europe, where more than 40 TV networks used it.

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