At least 750 civilians were killed or executed in Ethiopia’s Amhara and Afar regions in the second half of 2021, the country’s rights body said in a report published Friday that catalogued widespread abuses, including torture and gang rape.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said at least 403 civilians died in air raids, drone strikes and heavy artillery fire since Tigrayan rebels fighting government forces launched an offensive into the neighboring regions of northern Ethiopia in July last year. Another 346 civilians lost their lives in extra-judicial killings carried out by the warning parties, mainly Tigrayan rebels but also government forces and their allies, the EHRC added.
It also accused Tigrayan rebels of widespread abuses such as gang rape, torture, looting and the destruction of public facilities such as hospitals and schools in the two regions that border Tigray.
“Tigray forces engaged in abductions and enforced disappearances in a manner that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the report said.
The conflict in the north erupted in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent forces into Tigray to topple the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a move he said came in response to the rebel group’s attacks on army camps.
The war has spread to neighboring regions, killed thousands of people and, according to the UN and the United States, driven hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation.