Massacre in North Ethiopia Leaves Scores Dead, Amnesty Says

Unidentified attackers killed scores of civilians in a massacre in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray area, Amnesty International said, as the government began replacing the administration of the dissident region.

The killings of “likely hundreds of people” took place in the Tigrayan town of May Cadera on Nov. 9, the London-based human-rights organization said in a statement Thursday. A regional media agency, known as AMMA, reported that about 500 people died in the attack and the victims were primarily non-Tigrayans, Amnesty said.

“We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day laborers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s director for east and southern Africa. “This is a horrific tragedy whose true extent only time will tell as communication in Tigray remains shut down.”

Ethiopian government soldiers have been battling forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since Nov. 4. The massacre death toll adds to the 550 fighters federal troops claim to have killed so far.

The conflict has raised international concerns of a full-blown civil war, at a time when the government is struggling to end ethnic violence that’s shaken one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. It may also delay plans to open up the economy to foreign investors that were expected to lure tens of billions of dollars in inflows.

Eurobonds Slump

Investors are spooked. The country’s $1 billion of Eurobonds maturing in 2024 have declined 4% this month. A gauge tracking developing-nation dollar-denominated debt rose 2% in the month through Tuesday.

Amnesty said that it was unable to confirm who was responsible for the massacre, but cited witnesses who blamed forces loyal to the TPLF. Tigray President Debretsion Gebremichael denied his forces were involved.

“We cannot have such an act in Tigray,” he said by mobile-phone text message Friday.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, didn’t answer calls seeking comment.

The report came as Abiy said he appointed Mulu Nega Kahsay as chief executive officer of the Tigray region, to replace Debretsion.

“The chief executive will recruit and appoint heads to lead executive organs of the regional state from political parties legally operating in the region,” Abiy said on Twitter. The authorities have issued arrest warrants for 64 members of the TPLF government on treason charges, state-controlled broadcaster Fana Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing the police

Abiy’s announcement coincided with a decision by the African Union to replace its head of security, Tigrayan General Gebre-Egziabher Mebratu, after the Ethiopian Defense Ministry questioned his loyalty in a Nov. 10 letter to the AU seen by Bloomberg.

The African Union and Redwan Hussein, Ethiopia’s state minister of foreign affairs who also chairs the government’s emergency task force, didn’t answer calls seeking comment.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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