Tigray Forces Kill 120 Civilians

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Local officials in Ethiopia allege that Tigray forces have killed more than 120 civilians in recent days following battlefield losses, in what would be one of the deadliest massacres of the country's 10-month war.

Sewunet Wubalem, administrator for the Dabat woreda, or district, in the Amhara region told The Associated Press on Wednesday that 123 bodies had been recovered and more were expected to be found.

"The attack on Sept. 4 was the most severe one, especially in Chinnaq Teklehaymanot village," the administrator said, adding the attack began on Aug. 27 after Ethiopian forces blocked an attempt by Tigray fighters to seize the city of Gondar.

Local residents blamed the Tigray forces for looting, shelling and killing civilians, Sewunet said. "Children, mothers and even religious elders were also targeted," he said.

The death toll could be as high as 200, Bekele Yitbarek, head of the North Gondar Health Bureau, said. "As far as I know, some (Tigray) fighters are still hiding in between farms and continue their killings," he said.

Spokesman for the Tigray forces Getachew Reda did not immediately respond to questions. He has told the AP that Tigray forces aren't targeting civilians as they fight in Ethiopia's Amhara and Afar regions, but multiple witnesses in recent days have alleged otherwise.

The conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region has spread into other areas in recent weeks, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The Tigray forces say they are trying to pressure the government to lift the near-complete blockade on food aid and other essential supplies to their region as some 400,000 people there face famine conditions.

The United Nations, United States and others are pressing for an immediate cease-fire and a path to talks to end a war that has killed thousands of people in Africa's second-most populous country.