The death toll from an attack in Ethiopia’s western region of Benishangul-Gumuz rose to at least 207, the state human rights watchdog said on Friday.

The attack occurred in Metekel zone on Wednesday. Ethiopia’s human rights commission initially put the number of fatalities at 100.

The attack was the latest in a series of killings in recent months in the area, which is home to residents of the Oromo, Amhara – the two largest ethnic groups in the country – and Shinasha.

According to local leaders, these attacks are carried out by members of the Gumuz ethnic group and motivated by ethnic factors.

“(The Commission) continues to monitor the situation in Benishangul-Gumuz with the relevant authorities and confirms that the death toll of the attack that took place (…) in the early hours of December 23, 2020, has risen to 207 (dead),” a statement published Friday evening said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called the attack a ‘massacre’ and ordered federal troops to deploy. On Thursday, the army said it had killed 42 men accused of carrying out the attack.

More than 40,000 people fled their homes due to the fighting, according to a local government spokesman.

The Benishangul-Gumuz region has long been troubled by ethnic violence as communities row over land, power, and resources.

The attack happened after soldiers withdrew from their posts.

The Ethiopian military is having a busy time, trying to stop a rebellion in Tigray region – and involved in border skirmishes with Sudanese forces.

AFP

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