Reports of the mass killing of civilians in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region “would amount to war crimes” if confirmed, the UN human rights chief has warned.
Michelle Bachelet called for an inquiry into reports that scores and maybe hundreds of people had been stabbed and hacked to death in one town.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has accused forces loyal to Tigray’s leaders of the massacre.
Its officials have denied involvement.
Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael told AFP news agency that the accusations were “baseless.”
Mr Abiy said that fighters backing Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), went on the rampage after federal troops had “liberated” the western part of Tigray, “brutally” killing innocent civilians in Mai-Kadra, a town in the South West Zone of Tigray.
Witnesses blamed forces loyal to TPLF for Monday’s killings – first reported by human rights group Amnesty International.
If confirmed, this would be the first large-scale killing of civilians in the fighting between government forces and the TPLF which broke out on 4 November.
Getting information about the clashes is hard because phone lines and internet services are down.
Ms Bachelet said she was “alarmed” about the situation in Ethiopia, but added that the “first priority” was to stop the fighting and prevent further atrocities.
There has been long-standing tension between Ethiopia’s government and the TPLF, which controls Tigray, the country’s northernmost state. The tension has boiled over into military clashes, including air strikes by federal forces.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen said on Friday that the military operation was going on as expected and would end “in a very short period of time”.
He added that order had to be restored and “criminals caught” before dialogue was possible.
The conflict has forced thousands of civilians to cross the border into Sudan, which says it will shelter them in a refugee camp.
Who were the victims?
Amnesty said the killings happened on the night of 9 November.
The human rights group said it had confirmed that “scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) town”.
It said it had seen and “digitally verified gruesome photographs and videos of bodies strewn across the town or being carried away on stretchers”.
Copied from:BBC News
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