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Extrajudicial killings leave 66 dead in Ethiopia, group says

Members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force parade during the 116th celebration of Ethiopian Defense Force day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Oct. 26, 2023.   (Amanuel Sileshi/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Fasika Tadesse Bloomberg News

Government security forces killed at least 60 civilians in an attack in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region last month, a state-run human rights body said.

The extrajudicial killings of 45 people took place Jan. 29 in the town of Merawi, after soldiers accused residents of supporting the rebel Fano militia, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said in a statement emailed from the capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday.

At least 15 others were killed on Jan. 19 in the Berenta district in Amhara’s East Gojjam Zone, and six more died in the Quarit district in West Gojjam Zone on Jan. 15, it said.

Government Communications Service Minister Legesse Tulu didn’t respond to a request for comment sent by text message.

Federal Ethiopian forces and Fano fighters have clashed since August, when the government announced it will dissolve all regional militias and integrate them into the national security forces. Fano refused to surrender its weapons, leading lawmakers to declare a state of emergency in the Amhara region.

The fighting erupted almost a year after the signing of a cease-fire agreement between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the dissident Tigray People’s Liberation Front that ended a two-year war in the northern Tigray region. The conflict left hundreds of thousands of people dead and forced millions more to flee, according to U.S. and European Union estimates.

Civilian suffering is escalating because of the conflict in Amhara, Daniel Bekele, the chief commissioner of the EHRC, said in the statement.

“We once again urge all parties to participate in peaceful dialogue as the sole enduring solution and to pursue it with resolve,” he said.