The situation in Tigray escalated on November 4, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the victor of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, launched a military offensive in the restive region.
Tensions over the deadly conflict in Ethiopia are spreading well beyond its cut-off northern Tigray region, as the federal government said some 150 suspected "operatives" accused of seeking to "strike fear and terror" throughout the country had been detained.
On Monday evening in the small town of Mai-Kadra, a few kilometers from the Sudanese border, "scores, and likely hundreds" of people were stabbed or hacked to death, Amnesty said, based on verified photos and videos the scene and interviews with witnesses.
"The purging of competent Tigrayan officials in the midst of the conflict is not good for the morale of the (security and military) services", he said, referring also to other removals of Tigrayan officials since the military offensive began.
It said it had not been able to independently confirm who was responsible, but said the witnesses had blamed fighters loyal to Tigray's local leaders.
There was no immediate reaction from the TPLF, which dominated national politics for almost three decades before Abiy took office in 2018.
Since Abiy ordered a military operation against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), government airstrikes ad skirmishes on the ground are believed to have killed hundreds.
The region has been under a communications blackout ever since.
"If confirmed as having been deliberately carried out by a party to the current fighting, these killings of civilians would of course amount to war crimes", she said.
Debretsion, who served in the federal government and was once deputy prime minister, says the Tigray region is overlooked by the Abiy administration. However, he also pushed the TPLF aside.
Mulu Nega, 52, was appointed to replace ousted Tigray President Debretsion Gebremichael.
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And as time goes on, he has been accused of embracing the same authoritarianism many hoped he would end, overseeing mass arrests and abuses by security forces.
The fighting in Ethiopia's northern Tigray state may not only have drastic implications for the future of the country but could also seriously affect its neighbours.
Close to 10,000 Ethiopian refugees have already fled the weeklong conflict into neighboring Sudan, where local authorities are already warning they are overwhelmed. About half of them are children.
Bachelet warned that if the conflict continues "there is a risk this situation will spiral totally out of control, leading to heavy casualties and destruction, as well as mass displacement within Ethiopia itself and across borders".
The African Union has also called for an immediate stop to fighting and dialogue. But Ethiopia on Thursday insisted that the "cruelty" of the TPLF "cannot be addressed or redressed by sitting at a table for a negotiation".
There are mounting worries about how Tigray's population is faring.
Thousands of Ethiopians have fled across the border into neighbouring Sudan, and the United Nations is sounding the alarm about a humanitarian crisis in Tigray. Ethiopia denied a TPLF claim that federal jets had knocked out a power dam.
"This will require a significant mobilization of resources to address the needs of those seeking asylum", the United Nations agency said.
An analyst said the dismissal was part of the Abiy government's efforts to sideline prominent Tigrayans.
The mounting differences between the federal government and TPLF exacerbated in September this year, when the Tigray regional government made a decision to go with its planned regional elections, which the Ethiopian parliament had previously postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A man lies down after giving blood at a blood drive in support of the country's military, at a stadium in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.