Amnesty International said Friday that Eritrean soldiers killed hundreds of civilians in the Ethiopian town of Axum between November 28 and 29, 2020.
On November 19, Ethiopian and Eritrean military forces took control of Axum. According to Amnesty, the military killed and displaced civilians through indiscriminate shelling and extrajudicial executions in the days following the takeover. Soldiers reportedly opened fire in the streets and conducted house-to-house raids, during which they killed teenage and adult men.
There was also reportedly widespread looting of civilian property, and the forces looted a variety of buildings, including hospitals. The looting left Axum residents, many of whom already lived day-to-day, with a scarcity of food and water. Many individuals were forced to leave town.
The worst of the violence allegedly occurred on November 28 and 29, when the Eritrean soldiers began randomly shooting and killing civilians. According to the report, hundreds of citizens were possibly killed. Following the killings, the soldiers detained hundreds of civilians.
Amnesty concluded that the acts may amount to a crime against humanity. Under international humanitarian law, it is a war crime to deliberately target civilians, indiscriminately attack individuals and loot.
Amnesty called for an international investigation into the events at Axum, stating that the authorities had made contradictory statements about the events. The organization also called upon Ethiopian authorities to stop the violations of human rights and to ensure humanitarian access to Tigray.