Ethiopia’s state-appointed rights watchdog says the county’s volatile north-western Amhara region, where local militias continue to fight government troops, has seen widespread incidents of extrajudicial killings and sexual violence.
In a report released on Monday, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said since August – when violence broke out in the region – many civilians have been killed in drone strikes and also summary executions, often following house-to-house searches conducted by government forces.
In late September, civilians were killed in strikes in at least three towns. The dead included a child who was around 18 months old.
In three other areas, including the regional capital Bahir Dar, extrajudicial killings by government troops, were reported, the EHRC added.
The commission says rape in the context of the conflict has become “very concerning” with at least 200 women and girls reported to have been raped since August.
Schools had been, and in some areas continue to be, used as military camps in the region, according to the EHRC. Three hospitals had ceased their operations after harassment and arrests of staff and patients with one remaining closed.
Local militias, known as Fano, on the other hand have targeted government officials including a member of the regional council.
Fighting broke out in Amhara after months of simmering tension following a decision by the federal government to disband a state-backed paramilitary group.
In August, the militias entered several of the region’s main cities, temporarily taking control of an airport in the historic town of Lalibela before they were pushed out by the army.
Fighting has since been concentrated in rural areas and small towns.
The region is still under a state of emergency while communication lines are restricted, making it difficult to report on the accusations of abuses.