TDF denies killing 120 civilians in Amhara, dismisses reports as "fabrications"
ADDIS ABABA - The Tigray Defense Forces [TDF] has denied claims it killed over 120 civilians in parts of Amhara, just a day after reports emerged of atrocities in northern Ethiopia, which further complicates efforts to restore peace and order.
Getachew Reda, the spokesperson of the outfit which has been at loggerheads with the Ethiopian government, accused Amhara regional administration of "spewing" propaganda against TDF, with an aim of "spoiling our reputation".
He termed the article by Reuters as unfounded and asked authorities to investigate the claims. The TDF also said it was ready to facilitate reporters to help in fact-finding missions, adding that such claims should not be tolerated.
"The article solely relies on fabricated allegations by Amhara regional government, an entity responsible for horrific acts of mass murder, sexual violence and ethnic cleansing in Western Tigray, as Reuters has extensively documented," read the statement.
"As reported earlier, our forces have never engaged in the killing of civilians. We categorically reject claims of our forces killing civilians. We reiterate our calls for independent investigations into the allegations. We are also willing to facilitate the media to reach areas that are under our control."
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, Reuters reported.
"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 mobilized 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."