Ethiopian soldiers accused of war crimes in SomaliaNAIROBI — 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 rights group said it had scores of reports of killings by Ethiopian troops. In one case, "a young child's throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child's mother," the report says.
The Ethiopian information minister, Berhanu Hailu, said the report was "totally unfounded."
"Normally, when they report, they do not balance it out. They have to go and see the reality for themselves. They shouldn't report from abroad saying this is happening," he said in Addis Ababa.Amnesty said about 6,000 civilians had been reported killed and more than 600,000 had been forced to flee their homes in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, last year."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.
The report quotes testimony from 75 witnesses as well as scores of workers from nongovernmental organizations. People are identified only by first name to protect them from retaliation.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.
Since then, Mogadishu has been caught up in a guerrilla war between the government and its Ethiopian allies, and the Islamist insurgents.
Amnesty urged the United Nations, the African Union and other groups to halt the violence.
2nd day of riots in Mogadishu
Hundreds of youths in the Somali capital lobbed stones at shops and cars and set tires on fire Tuesday in a second day of violence over food prices, The Associated Press reported from Mogadishu.
The unrest Tuesday was not as widespread as a day earlier, when tens of thousands took to the streets and troops shot and killed two people.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/world ... 10349.html