Rebellious forces from the Tigray region killed 120 civilians over two days in a village in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, local officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
The killings in a village 10 km (six miles) from the town of Dabat took place on Sept. 1 and 2, said Sewnet Wubalem, the local administrator in Dabat, and Chalachew Dagnew, spokesperson of the nearby city of Gondar.
The Tigrayan forces later issued a statement rejecting what they called a “fabricated allegation” by the Amhara regional government and denying any involvement in the killing of civilians.
It is the first such report of Tigrayan forces killing a large number of civilians since they seized territory in Amhara. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in the region as the Tigrayan forces have advanced.
“So far we have recovered 120 bodies. They were all innocent farmers. But we think the number might be higher. There are people who are missing,” Sewnet, the local administrator, told Reuters by phone.
Chalachew, the Gondar city spokesperson, said he had visited the burial area in the village and that children, women and elderly were among the dead.
He said the killings occurred during the Tigrayan forces’ “short presence” in the area, and it was now under the control of the Ethiopian federal army.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the accounts.
In their statement, Tigrayan forces called for “an independent investigation into all atrocities” in the region.
Video interviews provided to Reuters by the Gondar city government indicated that villagers fought the Tigrayan forces.
An interview with a man in an old military uniform said the village had mobilised every able person to fight back against the Tigrayan forces when they heard they were approaching.
“We fought for five days and they retreated,” said the man, who gave his name as Wubet Fekremariam. “When they retreated they killed our people that they found on their way.”
Last month, Ethiopia’s government urged citizens to join the fight against the Tigrayan forces.