Tigray rebels tortured and killed civilians in renewed fighting, survivors claim

Witnesses claim the attacks in Amhara region last month were carried out on those the TPLF suspected of supporting Ethiopian federal forces

Ethiopian civilians displaced from Kobo town by fighting at a makeshift camp in Dessie, Amhara. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Tigrayan rebel forces have killed dozens of civilians during their latest occupation of a town in the Amhara region, survivors claim, after fighting resumed last month in the northern area of Ethiopia.

The alleged killings took place in the town of Kobo, located along the highway to the capital, Addis Ababa. Between 13-15 September, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters shot dead unarmed civilians they suspected of supporting federal forces and local militias, survivors have told the Guardian.

In one district of Kobo alone, witnesses counted 17 bodies of people killed over two days.

Fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and Tigrayan rebels erupted again in late August, shattering a six-month humanitarian truce. On 4 September the TPLF announced it had captured Kobo but in the past week rebels withdrew from the town amid fierce fighting with federal troops and Amhara militias.

Meanwhile, fighters were killing people and looting in Kobo, residents said.

“It started on Tuesday, 13 September. Before that day the Tigray fighters were intimidating residents, looting, and searching for hidden arms. There was no fighting inside Kobo when they committed the killings. Federal troops had already withdrawn weeks earlier and it was Tigray forces who had fully occupied the town,” said Bekalu*, a 47-year-old father of three who fled the town after witnessing the killings.