The Amhara violence is Ethiopia's most serious crisis since a 2022 peace deal ended the war in neighboring Tigray.
Ethiopian federal security forces killed at least 45 civilians in a massacre in Amhara state in late January, the state-affiliated Ethiopian Independent Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said on Tuesday.
A statement said the EHRC confirmed “the identities of at least 45 civilians who were extrajudicially killed by government security forces for allegedly 'supporting' [ethnic Amhara armed group] Fano'.
“It can, however, be assumed that the number of victims is even higher,” the statement said.
The killings in the Amhara town of Merawi follow months of clashes last year between the Ethiopian army and Fano, a “self-defense” organization with no publicly known command structure and which recruits volunteers from the local population .
The fighting prompted the federal government to impose a state of emergency in August, which politicians extended for four months this month.
Deadly drone activity has also increased in the region.
Tewodrose Tirfe, president of the US-based advocacy group Amhara Association of America, told Al Jazeera in December that his organization had accumulated data on around 70 drone strikes that caused civilian casualties in the Amhara region. Amhara since May.
The Ethiopian army is the only operator of armed drones in this Horn of Africa country,
Last week, the United States said it was deeply concerned by reports of “targeted killings of civilians” in Merawi and called for an independent investigation.
The Amhara violence is Ethiopia's most serious crisis since the signing of a peace deal in November 2022 to end a two-year conflict in the neighboring Tigray region.
Amhara regional forces, including Fano, fought alongside federal troops against Tigrayan rebels, but ties deteriorated in April last year when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government moved to dismantle the Tigrayan paramilitaries. States across the country.
Amhara nationalists said it would weaken their region and protested the move.
In September, the EHRC accused federal government forces of carrying out extrajudicial killings in Amhara and mass arbitrary detentions in the region and elsewhere.