Ethiopian forces killed ‘at least 45 civilians’ in January massacre: rights body

Ethiopian forces killed ‘at least 45 civilians’ in January massacre: rights body

ADDIS ABABA (AFP): Ethiopia’s government security forces killed at least 45 civilians in a massacre in Amhara state in late January, the independent state-affiliated Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said Tuesday.

A statement said the EHRC had confirmed “the identity of at least 45 civilians who were extrajudicially killed by government security forces for allegedly ‘supporting Fano’,” an ethnic Amhara militia.

“However, it can be assumed that the number of victims is even higher,” it underscored.

The killings in the town of Merawi follow months of clashes last year between Ethiopia’s military and Fano, a “self-defence” militia.

The fighting prompted the federal government to impose a state of emergency in August that was extended by four months by lawmakers this month.

The United States last week said it was deeply concerned by reports of “targeted civilian killings” in Merawi and called for an independent investigation.

The Amhara violence reignited concerns about the stability of Ethiopia months after a peace agreement was signed in November 2022 to end a two-year conflict in the neighbouring region of Tigray.

Amhara regional forces fought alongside federal troops against Tigrayan rebels but ties frayed in April last year when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government decided to dismantle state paramilitaries across the country.

Amhara nationalists said it would weaken their region and protested against the move.

In September, the EHRC accused federal government forces of carrying out extra-judicial killings in Amhara, and mass arbitrary detentions in the region and elsewhere.