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Ethiopia Rejects Allegations Its Forces Massacred Civilians

Ethiopia’s administration denied on Thursday that its military slaughtered hundreds of civilians last month in the country’s restive Amhara region, despite Western demands for a probe.

Last year, a rebellion erupted in Amhara, Ethiopia’s second-largest province, after the government tried to dismantle regional forces and merge them into the federal army. Later, rebels took over numerous towns in the region before fleeing to the countryside.

During the crisis, rights monitors documented a wide range of human rights violations committed by government forces, including alleged extrajudicial killings.

According to Ethiopia’s state-appointed human rights committee, forces killed at least 45 civilians in the Amhara town of Merawi after fighting with a local militia in January. Another national rights organization estimated the death toll at more than 80. Both agencies reported that the killings included gunfire during house-to-house searches.

On Thursday, Legesse Tulu, a government spokesperson, informed the local language service of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that there was combat in Merawi but that the military “did not target any civilians.”

Legesse stated that soldiers entered civilian homes to conduct searches following the conflict and responded in “self-defense” when “they were fired upon again” by armed forces.

“Not only would civilians never be targeted, even surrendering combatants would not be killed,” he claimed.

On Wednesday, the United Kingdom recommended a complete inquiry of events in Merawi, a day after the European Union called for a probe and talks to address the situation in Amhara.

Authorities have stopped the internet in Amhara, and some areas lack phone coverage, making it harder to verify events.

The Fano fought alongside the Ethiopian federal troops in the two-year battle against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the adjacent region of Tigray, although their relationship was strained. The two sides began fighting before the Tigray conflict was resolved in November 2022 with a peace agreement.

Amhara is now under a state of emergency, which suspends civil liberties and grants additional powers to security forces.

Written by PH

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