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Dozens of civilians killed by Ethiopian troops

Ethiopia’s federal security forces killed at least 45 civilians in a massacre in Amhara state in late January, the independent state-affiliated Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said on Tuesday.

It is one of the worst episodes of violence in the Amhara region since last August, when powerful local Fano militias began a rebellion against the government's plans to disarm them.

A statement said the EHRC had confirmed “the identity of at least 45 civilians who were extrajudicially killed by government security forces for allegedly ‘supporting [ethnic Amhara armed group] Fano’.”

The killings in the Amhara town of Merawi follow months of clashes last year between Ethiopia’s military and Fano, a “self defence” organisation with no publicly known command structure that draws volunteers from the local population.

Numerous witnesses spoke to the BBC last month on condition of anonymity.

"They went into my brother's house… They brought him and 12 others out to the streets and shot them," a labourer told the BBC.

"The soldiers were threatening us [and] accusing us of sheltering the Fano and providing them food," said another resident, who is adamant the civilian massacre was revenge for militia attacks on government troops.

Another eyewitness is grieving her younger brother, who was a civil servant.

"He was with his son. They told me to hold the child. They took [my brother] and killed him."

Most of those killed were young men, according to witnesses.

Both the US and the European Union have expressed their concerns at the move, which comes amid intense ongoing fighting between Fano militias and the army.

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