Local officials in Ethiopia alleged Wednesday that Tigray forces have killed more than 120 civilians in recent days following battlefield losses, in what would be one of the deadliest massacres of the East African nation’s 10-month war.
Tigray forces denied killing civilians.
Sewunet Wubalem, administrator for the Dabat district in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region, told The Associated Press that 123 bodies had been recovered and more were expected to be found.
The death toll could be as high as 200, according to the head of the North Gondar Health Bureau.
The Tigray forces in a statement on Wednesday called the allegations “fabricated” by the Amhara regional government.
A spokesman for the Tigray forces, Getachew Reda, told the AP last month that Tigray forces aren’t targeting civilians as they fight in Ethiopia’s Amhara and Afar regions.
But multiple witnesses even before the latest killings have alleged otherwise.
Dagnew Hune, a resident of Chenna Teklehaymanot village, on Thursday showed the AP what he alleged were the fresh graves of civilians killed.
“59 people are buried and 6 of them are priests”, Hune said and added that about a hundred people are still missing.
The conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has spread into other areas in recent weeks, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
The Tigray forces say they are trying to pressure the government to lift the near-complete blockade on food aid and other essential supplies to their region as some 400,000 people there face a famine.
Ethiopia’s government has called on all able citizens to join the effort to stop the Tigray forces, urging students and others into basic military training.
Many in the Amhara region have responded by taking up arms, creating an armed militia going by the name of FANO.
Humanitarian groups have accused it of being behind massacres of Tigrayans.
The United Nations, the United States and others are pressing for an immediate cease-fire and a path to talks to end a war that has killed thousands of people in Africa’s second-most populous country.