Civilians are completely at the mercy of armed groups in Somalia, says human rights group Amnesty International.
It says the situation is “dire” in the centre and the south with government troops, their Ethiopian allies and Islamist insurgents “out of control”.
They carry out killings, torture, rape, beatings, arbitrary detention and forced disappearances, a report says.
The Ethiopian government has dismissed the report as a “total fabrication” and demanded an apology.
“We have said repeatedly that our soldiers are the most disciplined soldiers in the world,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wahide Belaye.
“They have never cut anybody’s throat, never gang-raped any women, never deliberately shot civilians in Somalia.”
In Mogadishu, hundreds of people have stormed through the Bakara market area, hurling stones at cars and shops and setting fire to tyres in protest at rising food prices and fake currency.
Troops shot two people dead on Monday in similar protests.
People who have visited the capital, Mogadishu, recently say parts of it are a ghost town, but Amnesty says residents fleeing the city are prey for armed bandits on the road who rape women and girls and steal whatever they have taken with them.
A young child’s throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child’s mother
Even in refugee camps, Somalis face attack, Amnesty says. It says no-one is offering them any protection.
The group says more than 6,000 civilians have been killed in Somalia in the past year.
Many of the accounts blamed Ethiopian troops for some of the worst violations – which appeared to be revenge for insurgent attacks, Amnesty says.
“Nothing justifies gang rape, slitting the throats of civilians or disproportionate attacks,” Amnesty’s Michelle Kagari told the BBC.
In one case, “a young child’s throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child’s mother,” the report says.
But this was strongly denied by the Ethiopian government, which says “the cutting of throats of even enemies is not in the tradition of Ethiopian troops”.
‘Eyes gouged out’
In another incident, the report quotes Haboon, 56, saying Ethiopian troops raped a neighbour’s 17-year-old daughter in 2007.
When the girl’s two brothers tried to help her, Ethiopian soldiers gouged out their eyes with a bayonet, she said.
The Ethiopian and Somali governments say they are fighting al-Qaeda-backed militants.
They frequently use road-side bombs to target troops from the two armies.
Last week, Aden Hashi Ayro, a senior commander of the militant group al-Shabab, was killed in a US air-strike.
Amnesty calls on the UN to condemn the violations in the strongest terms, strengthen its weapons embargo, increase its monitoring capacity, and set up a commission of inquiry.
At least two people were shot dead in the capital, Mogadishu, on Monday when troops opened fire to halt riots over rising costs and counterfeit money.
Thousands of people rioted, burning tyres and throwing stones after traders refused to accept local notes and demanded US dollars instead.
The recent printing of local shilling notes on illegal presses has led to spiralling inflation, reporters say.
This and the increasing insecurity have seen food prices double.
Somalia has been without a central government for more than 17 years and for the past 17 months, the Ethiopian-backed interim government has been struggling to exert its control over the country.
The United Nations reports that soaring food prices have already forced more than a third of all Somalis to rely on outside assistance to feed their families.
Last week, the UN Food Security Analysis Unit warned that the country was facing a major famine caused by a prolonged drought and the soaring food prices.
It said that half of the population would need food aid by the end of the year and that hyperinflation, the devaluation of the Somali shilling and the relentless armed conflict were making it more and more difficult for the urban poor to get enough to eat.
First-hand testimony from scores of traumatized survivors of the conflict is included in the report, which exposes the violations and abuses they have suffered at the hands of a complex mix of perpetrators.
These include Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops on the one hand, as well as armed groups on the other. For many civilians, there is nowhere to go to escape the violence.
“The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.
Witnesses told Amnesty International of an increasing incidence of what it locally termed as “slaughtering” or “killing like goats” by Ethiopian troops, referring to killing by slitting the throat. The victims of these killings are often left lying in pools of blood in the streets until armed fighters, including snipers, move out of the area and relatives can collect their bodies.
“The testimony we received strongly suggests that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia – and no one is being held accountable,” said Michelle Kagari.
“The human rights and humanitarian situation in Somalia is growing worse by the day. This report represents the voices of ordinary Somalis, and their plea to the international community to take action to end the attacks against them, including those committed by internationally-supported TFG and Ethiopian forces.”
Security in many parts of Mogadishu is non-existent and the entire population of the city bears the scars of having witnessed or experienced egregious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
“There is no safety for civilians, wherever they run. Those fleeing violence in Mogadishu are attacked on the road and those lucky enough to reach a camp or settlement face further violence and dire conditions.”
The Transitional Federal Government, as the recognized government of Somalia, bears the primary responsibility for protecting the human rights of the Somali people. However, the Ethiopian military, which is taking a leading role in backing the TFG, also bears responsibility.
“Attacks on civilians by all parties must stop immediately. Also, the international community must bear its own responsibility for not putting consistent pressure on the TFG or the Ethiopian government to stop their armed forces from committing egregious human rights violations.”
Amnesty International has urged that the capacity of the UN Political Office for Somalia be strengthened, and that AMISOM – and any succeeding UN peacekeeping mission – be mandated to protect civilians and include a strong human rights component with the capacity to investigate human rights violations. The organization has also called for the UN arms embargo on Somalia to be strengthened.