The Ethiopian police has demanded a list of ethnic minority Tigrayans from the UN as it accuses the regime of killing hundreds in war crimes.
An internal UN security report revealed officers visited a UN World Food Programme (WFP) office in Amhara region of Ethiopia on Friday to request the list of Tigrayan staff.
The Ethiopian government, which is fighting rebellious leaders of Tigray region, said the police were pursuing suspects linked to Tigrayan authorities, not Tigrayans, and cautioned against any 'misrepresentation' of the visit to WFP.
The UN report said that the local police chief informed the WFP office of 'the order of identifying ethnic Tigrayans from all government agencies and NGOs'.
The report stated the United Nations told the police they do not identify staff by ethnicity and there was no immediate comment from the Amhara regional police.
Ethiopia launched a military offensive in Tigray last week and hundreds of people have been killed in the ensuing fighting.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accuses the leaders of the northern region - the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) - of treason.
Concerns are growing that the campaign against them could led to ethnic profiling of Tigrayans throughout the country.
Amnesty International said yesterday that scores of civilians were killed in a 'massacre' in Ethiopia's Tigray region that witnesses blamed on forces backing the local ruling party.
The 'massacre' is the first reported incident of large-scale civilian fatalities in a week-old conflict between the regional ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), and the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize.
'Amnesty International can today confirm... that scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) town in the South West Zone of Ethiopia's Tigray Region on the night of 9 November,' the rights group said in a report.
The reports of the police visit to the WFP office in Amhara were a 'complete misrepresentation of the event', the government's emergency taskforce said in a statement, adding that it was pursuing suspects linked to Tigray's leaders, not Tigrayans.
The suspects were 'embedded' and 'active' within various local and international organisations, the taskforce said.
The news comes as the African Union today announced it had dismissed its security head, an Ethiopian national, after Abiy's government accused him of disloyalty.
An analyst said the dismissal was part of the Abiy government's efforts to sideline prominent Tigrayans.
Local forces and militias from Amhara, which has boundary disputes with Tigray, are backing the federal troops' campaign, further increasing ethnic friction.
Witnesses said Monday's attack was carried out by TPLF-aligned forces after a defeat at the hands of the Ethiopian military, though Amnesty said it 'has not been able to confirm who was responsible for the killings'.
Amensty nonetheless called on TPLF commanders and officials to 'make clear to their forces and their supporters that deliberate attacks on civilians are absolutely prohibited and constitute war crimes'.
Abiy ordered military operations in Tigray on November 4, saying they were prompted by a TPLF attack on federal military camps - a claim the party denies.
The region has been under a communications blackout ever since, making it difficult to verify competing claims on the ground.
Abiy said Thursday his army had made major gains in western Tigray.
Thousands of Ethiopians have fled across the border into neighbouring Sudan, and the UN is sounding the alarm about a humanitarian crisis in Tigray.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.