Ethiopia claims it has recaptured ancient city of Lalibela, UN says government committing ‘outrageous atrocities’

The Ethiopian government says it has recaptured the vast ancient city of Lalibela, but the United Nations’ top human rights official says the country’s military has committed “outrageous atrocities” and closed an investigation into war crimes.

The statement from the Ethiopian government Tuesday said the military has taken control of the region where the popular tourist destination is located.

More than 60,000 migrants from Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group have fled across the border to Sudan, fearing ethnic violence by the ruling EPRDF regime, which has been accused of repressing the country’s biggest protests in two decades.

But rights groups allege Ethiopia’s military is ramping up attacks against Oromo activists ahead of elections scheduled for February.

Dileep Srivastava, the director of advocacy at Human Rights Watch, criticized the International Criminal Court for not investigating, which he said appeared to be the African Commission’s frustration with the court’s “virtually nonexistent record for the arrest and prosecution of high-level officials for crimes against humanity.”

According to the U.N.’s cultural heritage body, the UNWTO, Lalibela is famous for its seven main churches.

The Ethiopian government said the anti-terrorism operation was targeting extremists.

The Ethiopian military said last week that it was attacking bases of an Islamist militant group allegedly active in the region.

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