Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called Wednesday’s attack on a village in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz a “massacre”.
The death toll from Wednesday’s attack in Ethiopia’s western Benishangul-Gumuz region has risen to 207, a Red Cross volunteer from the country said.
“Yesterday, we buried 207 people who are the victims and 15 others of the attackers,” volunteer Melese Mesfin told Reuters news agency on Friday.
The attack occurred in the village of Bekoji in Bulen County in the Metekel area. Ethiopia’s state-appointed Human Rights Commission initially estimated that at least 100 people had been killed.
Meanwhile, nearly 40,000 people have fled their homes as a result of the fighting, Bulen County spokesman Kassahun Addisu said.
Wednesday’s attack by unidentified gunmen was the latest deadly assault in an area plagued by ethnic violence.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called the attack a “massacre” and deployed federal troops there the next day. The army killed 42 gunmen accused of attacking the village.
Since September, there have been waves of violence against members of the Amhara, Shinasha, Oromo and Agew communities in the region.
Tensions between Ethiopian ethnic groups have escalated under Abiy, who has been in power since 2018.
The elections scheduled for next June have further inflamed rivalries over land, power and resources.
In another part of the country, the Ethiopian army has been fighting rebels in the northern Tigray region for more than six weeks in a conflict that has displaced nearly 950,000 people.
The deployment of federal troops there raised fears of a security vacuum in other turbulent areas.
Ethiopia is also experiencing unrest in the Oromia region and faces long-standing security threats from Somali fighters along its porous eastern border.
European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement on behalf of the bloc that reports of ethnic violence and other allegations of human rights violations should be investigated independent.
The EU is closely monitoring the crisis in Ethiopia and is concerned about the humanitarian situation, Borrell added, calling reports of the continued involvement of non-Ethiopian actors worrying.