At least 600 civilians were killed during an attack in northern Ethiopia on November 9, according to a report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The report comes as leaders of the Tigray region rejected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s 72-hour deadline.
The EHRC’s report states that a group of Tigrayan youths, assisted by local officials and police, “carried out door-to-door” raids, killing hundreds they identified as ethnic “Amharas and Wolkait.”
The EHRC accused the group, the Tigrayan militia and police security, of committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”
“The unimaginably atrocious crime committed against civilians for no reason other than their ethnicity is heartbreaking,” said EHRC chief Daniel Bekele in a statement per CNN. “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.”
In early November, the reported attack led to Abiy moving the government’s armed forces to surround the region.
On Monday, Abiy gave Tigrayan forces three days to yield. Abiy warned that government forces were now “in the third and final phase” of their military operation in the area.
“We urge you to surrender peacefully within the next 72 hours, recognizing that you are at a point of no return,” he added in a stern warning to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Despite the ultimatum, the TPLF vowed to continue the fight.
“We are not concerned about timing, we are concerned about our final complete success,” said the president of the Tigray region, Debretsion Gebremichael, on Tigray TV Monday night.
Diplomats and human rights organizations worldwide have urged Abiy to rethink his intention to go to war with Tigray if they do not surrender.
“We respectfully urge the international community to refrain from any unwelcome and unlawful acts of interference,” a statement from Abiy’s office said.
“The international community should stand by until the government of Ethiopia submits its requests for assistance to the community of nations. We reject any interference in our internal affairs.”