(Bloomberg) -- More than a hundred people were killed last November by Eritrean forces in the northern Ethiopian town of Axum, according to the Ethiopian independent human rights body.
The rights group based its findings on interviews with 45 family members of the victims as well as survivors, eyewitnesses and religious leaders. The death toll could be higher, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said in a statement on Wednesday.
“These widespread human rights violations committed by the Eritrean soldiers who were present in Axum city at the time of the incident, are not ordinary crimes, but constitute grave contraventions of applicable international and human rights laws and principles,” according to the commission.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed on Tuesday the involvement of Eritrean forces in the Tigray conflict, nearly five months after it broke out. Abiy also acknowledged atrocities in Tigray, a region in Ethiopia’s north that borders Eritrea, adding that the nation would not accept any human rights violations by either Eritrean or his government’s forces.Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve a longstanding border conflict with Eritrea, ordered an incursion into Tigray after the region’s administrators, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s forces, attacked a federal military camp in the region. The descent into violence followed months of tensions between federal and regional authorities.
While Abiy declared victory on Nov. 28, the strife has not ended. His forces have been accused of human rights violations by non-governmental organizations.
The Ethiopian government last month had criticized a report by Amnesty International on the killings in Axum. Human Rights Watch and independent journalists have since confirmed the massacre.
The Eritrean government has been silent on the matter and a request for comment from the Ministry of Information after normal business hours were not immediately answered.
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