Ethiopia’s Govt Rejects Allegations Its Soldiers Massacred Civilians

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Ethiopia’s government on Thursday rejected allegations that its soldiers massacred scores of civilians last month in the country’s restive Amhara region.

The government has also demanded an investigation into the killings of the civilians.

It was gathered that a rebellion broke out in Amhara — Ethiopia’s second-biggest province last year when the government moved to dissolve regional forces and absorb them into the federal army.

Later, rebels captured several towns across the region before retreating to the countryside.

Rights monitors have documented a range of human rights abuses by government forces during the conflict, including alleged extra-judicial killings.

Ethiopia’s state-appointed human rights commission said troops killed at least 45 civilians in the Amhara town of Merawi following clashes with a local militia in January.

Another national rights body put the death toll at over 80. Both organizations said the killings included shootings that occurred during house-to-house searches.

However, a government spokesperson Legesse Tulu on Thursday, told the local language service of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that there was fighting in Merawi but insisted the military “did not target any civilians.”

Legesse said soldiers entered civilian homes to conduct searches after the fighting and acted in “self-defense” when “they were fired upon again” by armed elements.

“Not only would civilians never be targeted, even surrendering combatants would not be killed,” Legesse said.