At least 600 civilians were killed in northern Ethiopia massacre, rights commission says

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Nairobi, KenyaAt least 600 civilians were killed during an attack in northern Ethiopia in early November because of their ethnicity, a state-appointed human rights commission said Tuesday.

In its preliminary report into the November 9 massacre at Mai-Kadra, a town in the Tigray region, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said an informal group of Tigrayan youths, aided by local officials and police, “carried out door-to-door” raids, killing hundreds they identified as ethnic “Amharas and Wolkait.”

The EHRC, which describes itself as an “independent national” institution, accused the group, along with local Tigrayan militia and police security, of committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” before they retreated from the advance of the Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF).

“The unimaginably atrocious crime committed against civilians for no reason other than their ethnicity is heartbreaking,” said EHRC chief Daniel Bekele in a statement. “It is now an urgent priority that victims are provided redress and rehabilitation, and that perpetrators involved directly or indirectly at all levels are held to account before the law.”
The attackers destroyed and looted homes while using knives, machetes, hatchets and ropes to butcher or strangle victims, the EHRC said. Witnesses also told the EHRC that other residents of ethnic Tigrayan origin saved lives by hiding people in their homes, churches and fields.

Witnesses to the massacre also told CNN and Amnesty International that Tigrayan officials were behind the attack and that they targeted ethnic Amharas. The region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), have not responded to CNN for comment.

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