Suspected air strike claims 26 lives in Ethiopia’s Amhara region

Over the weekend, a suspected air strike in Ethiopia’s Amhara region resulted in the deaths of at least 26 people, according to a hospital official on Monday, as a state-appointed rights group detailed widespread killings of civilians since fighting broke out this month.

In the latter part of last week, federal forces successfully ousted Fano militiamen from the majority of major towns in Amhara, yet confrontations persist in various areas across the region, as indicated by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in a statement.

The ongoing conflict, driven by Fano’s allegations that the federal government is attempting to undermine Amhara’s defenses, represents Ethiopia’s most significant security challenge since the conclusion of a two-year civil war in the northern Tigray region last November.

Ethiopia’s government refutes Fano’s claims, a loose militia that supported federal forces during the Tigray conflict. As of Monday, there has been no response from government representatives, the military, or Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed regarding the alleged air strike or the EHRC’s declaration.

A suspected air strike struck the town center of Finote Selam on Sunday, according to an unnamed hospital official, who cited security concerns for not revealing their identity.

The hospital official reported that four individuals succumbed to their injuries at the hospital, while another 22 died either at the incident site or during transportation to the hospital. Additionally, fifty-five more individuals are currently undergoing treatment for injuries incurred in the explosion.

Tikikil Kumlachew, a university teacher who was at the hospital to visit a relative from an unrelated incident, reported that he had personally observed 14 bodies at the hospital and was informed by a medical staff member that another 12 individuals had also lost their lives.

“The explosion shook the city. I don’t know if it was a drone or something else. But it fell from the sky,” he said.

In its statement released on Monday, the EHRC stated that it had received reliable reports indicating that air strikes and shelling in Finote Selam and other towns had led to civilian casualties.

The EHRC’s statement indicated that its investigators had recorded a range of incidents since the beginning of the conflict. These included instances such as the killing of protesters who obstructed roads, the theft of weapons and ammunition from police stations and prisons, and the deliberate targeting of Amhara regional administration officials.

In the capital of Amhara, Bahir Dar, civilians lost their lives either on the streets or outside their residences, according to the EHRC.

The statement added that there were trustworthy accounts of “numerous civilian casualties” in Gondar, the second largest city in the region, and instances of extrajudicial killings by security forces in Shewa Robit.

In the capital city of Addis Ababa, there has also been a notable increase in the apprehension of individuals with ethnic Amhara background, the statement noted.

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