Ethiopia pledged on Saturday to investigate and prosecute uniformed soldiers and others seen in a grisly video in the country’s northwest burning a man alive.
The widely circulated video, which prompted outrage on social media late Friday, shows an unarmed guy being set on fire while a number of others mock him in Amharic, including several dressed in Ethiopian army uniforms.
The incident appears to have occurred in the northwestern province of Benishangul Gumuz, which borders Sudan and South Sudan, Ethiopia’s government communications department stated on Saturday.
In a statement, it added, “The video of the incredibly barbaric conduct being disseminated on social media sources shows innocents being burned alive,” vowing to “examine and take legal steps on those…who did this inhumane, and terrible act.”
AFP was unable to independently verify the video, and it was unclear whether the atrocity was linked to the ongoing 16-month war in northern Ethiopia.
Thousands of people have been slain in the fighting between government forces and Tigrayan rebels in Africa’s second most populous country, with widespread reports of atrocities such as mass executions and sexual abuse.
According to the United Nations, the war has uprooted over two million people, pushed hundreds of thousands to the verge of hunger, and left over nine million people in need for aid.
According to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), at least 750 individuals were slain or executed in the northern Amhara and Afar areas after becoming caught up in the violence last year.
The state-affiliated independent rights organization also listed a long list of atrocities, including torture, gang rape, and enforced disappearances, claiming that some of them may be considered war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Tigrayan rebels allegedly sexually assaulted girls and elderly women, according to the report. In Amhara and Afar, it also accused federal and local security forces of widespread arbitrary detentions.
Last November, the UN and the EHRC released a joint report detailing a wide range of human rights violations, the majority of which were blamed on Ethiopian forces and Eritrean troops who offered military support to Addis Ababa.
Last Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Council announced that Fatou Bensouda, a former top prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), will lead a UN inquiry into a wide variety of alleged war crimes committed by all parties.