Ethiopia’s military said Thursday only rebels were killed in this week’s deadly air strike on a market in the restive Tigray region.
Health authorities said more than 60 people were killed and 180 wounded when the market, in the town of Togoga, was hit around noon on Tuesday.
Local leaders, who provided information on the number of casualties, said children were among the dead.
However in interviews with both Reuters and AFP, military spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane denied harming civilians, saying those killed were combatants dressed in civilian clothing.
"We do not accept that this operation targeted civilians," Colonel Adane said.
The strike was carried out after a surge of fresh fighting near Togoga, located some 30 kilometres north-west of the regional capital Mekele.
Since November, Ethiopia’s military has been battling forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front, the region's former ruling party.
The Togoga bombing came as vote counting was underway following Monday's national elections, although ongoing violence prevented any voting in Tigray.
The United States condemned what it called a “reprehensible act”, adding it had credible reports of security forces preventing medical personnel from tending to the victims.
Meanwhile the United Nations has called for an urgent investigation.