NAIROBI — Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Ethiopian troops in Somalia of killing civilians and committing atrocities, including slitting people’s throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women.
In a new report, the human rights group, which is based in London, detailed chilling witness accounts of indiscriminate killings in Somalia and called on the international community to stop the bloodshed. The Ethiopian government said the report was unbalanced and “categorically wrong.”
Amnesty said testimony it received suggested that all parties to the conflict had committed war crimes. But it cited Ethiopian troops, in the country to back Somalia’s UN-sponsored government, for some of the worst violations.
The shaky transitional government invited Ethiopian forces into the country to help it battle Islamic insurgents. Somalia has been torn apart by years of violence between the militias of rival clan warlords.
“The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured. Looting is widespread and entire neighborhoods are being destroyed,” Michelle Kagari, the Amnesty deputy director for Africa, said in a statement from Nairobi that accompanied the report.
In one testimony, Haboon, 56, said her neighbor’s 17-year-old daughter had been raped by Ethiopian troops. The girl’s brothers tried to defend their sister, but the soldiers beat them and gouged their eyes out with a bayonet, Haboon was quoted as telling Amnesty.
“The testimony we received strongly suggests that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia and no one is being held accountable,” Kagari said.
Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew the longtime dictator, Mohamed Siad Barre, and then turned on each other. Last year, Islamist militants took control of most of southern Somalia, including Mogadishu. Troops from neighboring Ethiopia dewere ployed in December 2006 and ejected the Islamists from the capital.