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  • Last Update : 08:52 am

UN warns of war crimes in spiralling Ethiopia conflict

  • Published at 07:04 pm November 13th, 2020
Ethiopia
Pro-Tigrayan demonstrators display placards during a protest in front of the Chancellery, in Berlin on November 12, 2020 AFP

Hundreds are reported to have been killed, some in a gruesome massacre reported by Amnesty International

The United Nations warned on Friday of possible war crimes in Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray, after 10 days of fighting that the country's prime minister claimed had his enemy "in the final throes of death."

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, ordered military operations in Tigray last week, shocking the international community which fears the start of a long and bloody civil war.

Hundreds are reported to have been killed, some in a gruesome massacre reported by Amnesty International, and thousands have fled fighting and air strikes in Tigray, whose leaders Abiy accuses of seeking to destabilize the country.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet called for a full investigation into the report of mass killings in the town of Mai-Kadra, where Amnesty said it had "digitally verified gruesome photographs and videos of bodies strewn across the town or being carried away on stretchers."

"If confirmed as having been deliberately carried out by a party to the current fighting, these killings of civilians would of course amount to war crimes," she said in a statement.

Amnesty said it had not been able to confirm who was responsible for the killings, however witnesses blamed forces backing the region's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

Witnesses also reported the identity cards of some victims indicated they were from the Amhara region, an area with a long history of tensions with Tigrayans, notably over land.

Thousands of Amhara militiamen have deployed to the Tigray border to fight alongside federal forces.

Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael told AFP on Friday the accusations were "baseless."

Abiy says his military operation came in response to attacks on two federal military camps by the TPLF, which once dominated Ethiopian politics and claims it has been side-lined and targeted under Abiy.

The party denies carrying out the attacks.

Long-running tensions between Abiy and the TPLF hit a new low in September when Tigray pressed ahead with its own elections, insisting Abiy was an illegitimate leader after national polls were postponed due to the coronavirus.


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