Ethiopian troops are being accused of widespread sexual violence against women in the Tigray region as the country finds itself in the midst of a nine-month conflict between the federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in the north.

According to the BBC, Amnesty International
released testimonies from 63 Tigray women and children who said they had been raped by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers or pro-government fighters belonging to militias from the neighboring Amhara region.

"The level of sadistic and gratuitous brutality in addition to the rape was absolutely shocking," Donatella Rovera, author of the Amnesty International report, said.

While one woman said she was gang-raped in front of her children, others said they had been detained for weeks and repeatedly raped, often by several men. Many of the women said they identified Eritrean soldiers by their accents and uniforms.

Amnesty is urging the United Nations to urgently investigate the allegations that may amount to crimes against humanity.

"The patterns of sexual violence emerging from survivors' accounts indicate that the violations have been part of a strategy to terrorize, degrade, and humiliate both the victims and their ethnic group," Amnesty stated.

Rovera said many Tigray women have not had access to the support they need to recover. She adds that dozens are living in poverty in Sudanese refugee camps. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is accusing the Tigrayan forces, saying they are recruiting child soldiers, raping women and blocking aid. The prime minister launched an attack on the TPLF in November after the party allegedly stormed a military base, as Blavity previously reported.

As the two parties have continued to engage in war since November, dozens of civilians in the Tigray region have been forced to flee from their homes and mourn the loss of loved ones who ended up as casualties. Hundreds of thousands have also been pushed into famine conditions, BBC reported

While Abiy has designated the TPLF as a terrorist organization, the opposing group describes itself as the legitimate regional government of Tigray.