An Ethiopian military airstrike on a crowded town square in the country’s northern Amhara region killed 26 people and injured dozens on Sunday, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The airstrike hit the centre of the Finote Selam community, about 171 kilometres south of the regional capital, Bahir Dar.
An anonymous health official told the AP that 22 people died at the scene and several of the wounded had to undergo amputations.
This comes as the state-appointed rights group detailed widespread killings of civilians since fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s restive Amhara region this month, between local militia called Fano and the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF).
Ethiopian army kills protestors, targets government officials in Amhara region
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in a statement on Monday that it is “following with grave concern” the deadly hostilities between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and the Fano armed group in the Amhara Regional State.
The EHRC said it has confirmed that there was heavy fighting in and around cities and towns across the Amhara region, which involved the use of heavy artillery resulting in the deaths and injuries of civilians, as well as damage to property.
The rights group said that the Ethiopian army killed protestors including civilians who attempted to block roads in some cases. It added that the Amhara regional administration officials at various levels have been the target of attacks, resulting in the temporary collapse of local state structures in many areas and killings of government officials.
Access to basic services including electricity, water, banking services, hospitals, schools, telephone and internet services have been disrupted in many areas. Shops have also been closed, and the fighting has forced residents to confine themselves to their homes and prevented them from carrying out their daily routines.
Humanitarian assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Amhara region has been interrupted due to the conflict and the blocking of roads. The deteriorating security situation and interruption of services have placed refugees and asylum-seekers in Northern Gondar Zone, Dabat Woreda, in a situation of heightened vulnerability, and exacerbated protection concerns.
Last week, the ENDF managed to push Fano fighters out of two major towns in the Amhara region in its first major battlefield breakthrough since fighting erupted last week.
According to Reuters, the ENDF gained control of the centre of Gondar, Amhara’s second-biggest city, and entered the holy town of Lalibela after Fano withdrew.
The fighting in the Amhara region is the latest in a series of conflicts that have erupted in Ethiopia in recent years. The country is currently facing a major humanitarian crisis, with millions of people displaced from their homes due to conflict and drought.