Tigrayan rebels have killed more than 150 civilians in the Amhara region on suspicion of being informants or offering aid to federal forces, the government-affiliated Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said in a report.
The investigation, published on Saturday, which draws on 128 interviews, focuses on parts of Amhara which saw heavy fighting in July and August between fighters from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Ethiopian soldiers as the country’s brutal conflict enters its second year.
At least 184 civilians died as a result of the bloodshed, the EHRC said, accusing TPLF fighters of “willfully (killing) scores of civilians in towns and rural areas they captured”.
Civilians were shot and killed for supporting the federal government or for sheltering wounded soldiers, the commission said.
“TPLF forces shot and killed mentally ill residents of towns they controlled on suspicion of being informants for the government,” it added.
Local youth meanwhile killed people who had fled war-torn Tigray, accusing them of spying for the TPLF, the commission said.
“Additionally, both warring sides engaged in indiscriminate shelling that was not directed at a specific military objective, causing civilian deaths, injuries and damage to civilian property.”
EHRC chief commissioner Daniel Bekele said that “violations and abuses committed by all parties in South Gondar and North Wollo Zones of the Amhara region underscores the need to put an urgent stop to the continued suffering caused to civilians”.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November to topple the TPLF, a move he said came in response to rebel attacks on army camps.
Though the 2019 Nobel Peace laureate promised a swift victory, by late June the TPLF had retaken most of Tigray before expanding into Amhara and Afar.
As the humanitarian toll has spiked, bringing reports of massacres, sexual assaults and a starvation crisis, rights groups have sounded the alarm.