Rebel forces from the Tigray region killed 120 villagers in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region last week, local officials reported yesterday.
The killings in a village 10km from the town of Dabat took place on September 1 and 2, said Sewnet Wubalem, the local administrator in Dabat, and Chalachew Dagnew, spokesperson of the nearby city of Gondar.
A spokesperson for Tigrayan forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what is the first report of Tigrayan forces killing a large number of civilians since seizing territory in Amhara. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in the region as Tigrayan forces have advanced.
“So far we have recovered 120 bodies. They were all innocent farmers. But we think the number might be higher. There are people who are missing,” Mr Sewnet said.
Mr Chalachew said he had visited the village and said children, women and elderly people were among the dead.
He said the killings were during the Tigrayan forces’ “short presence” in the area, and it was now under the control of the Ethiopian federal army.
Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigrayan forces, has previously denied the forces have committed crimes against civilians while seizing territory in Amhara.
War broke out 10 months ago between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which controls the Tigray region.
Since then, thousands of people have been killed and more than two million have fled. Fighting spread in July from the Tigray region into the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar.
Relations between the ethnic Amharas and Tigrayans have deteriorated sharply.
During the war, regional forces and militiamen from the Amhara region have sought to settle a decades-old land dispute between the Amhara and Tigray regions.
Amhara forces have seized control of western parts of Tigray and driven tens of thousands of Tigrayans from their homes. Although the Tigrayan forces have recovered most of the Tigray region, they have not taken back the heavily militarised and contested area of western Tigray.
The US government’s humanitarian agency said last week that Tigrayan forces had recently looted its warehouses in parts of Amhara.
The UN has said a de facto aid blockade on the Tigray region, where around 400,000 people are already in famine conditions, has worsened an already dire humanitarian crisis.