Ethiopian, Eritrean troops clash with Tigrayan forces in the north

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  • Ethiopian, Eritrean troops attack, Tigray army says
  • Tigrayan forces intensify attacks, says Ethiopian government
  • Tigrayans arrested after ceasefire broken, lawyer says

NAIROBI, Sept. 1 (Reuters) – Allied Ethiopian and Eritrean government forces attacked Tigrayan forces in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray on Thursday, a Tigrayan military spokesman said as the latest flare-up of the conflict entered its second week.

The Ethiopian government blamed the insurgent forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for the renewed violence and said they had intensified their attacks.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia, pitting federal forces and their Eritrean allies against the TPLF, which controls the Tigray regional government, broke out in November 2020. The fighting resumed on August 24, forcing a ceasefire that was in effect since March, was broken.

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“The enemy, which has already moved a huge force to Eritrea, has now launched a joint campaign with the foreign invasion force of Eritrea,” Tigrayan’s military command said in a statement.

It said the northern city of Adybayo had been attacked from four directions, while fighting was also ongoing on the southern Tigray front. TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda spoke on Twitter of “a massive four-pronged offensive” around Adybayo.

The Ethiopian government said the intensification of the Tigrayan attacks resulted in the killing and expulsion of civilians and the destruction of property. It also accused the TPLF of diverting food aid intended for hungry Tigrayans.

The government statement did not directly address the TPLF’s claim of a joint attack by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in northwestern Tigray.

Ethiopian military spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane, spokesman for Prime Minister Billene Seyoum and Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not respond to requests for comment.

Eritrea’s ambassador to Kenya, Beyene Russom, tweeted that the Tigrayan forces made a mistake, adding: “The victory of the Eritrean armed forces and the people of Eritrea is inevitable!”

ARRESTS RESUME

A Tigrayan lawyer in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa said he had received reports of dozens of arrests of ethnic Tigrayans, including clerics, since fighting resumed last week.

Hailu Kebede, a senior Tigrayan opposition figure from Addis, went missing on Aug. 29 after leaving the house to see a mechanic, a relative said. Relatives had checked police stations but could not find him, and an unknown person had answered his phone saying he was unavailable.

Spokespersons for the Addis Ababa Police Department and the Federal Police did not respond to requests for comment on the alleged arrests or on Hailu’s disappearance.

During earlier pivotal moments in the conflict, thousands of Tigrayan civilians have been rounded up and detained with little food or medical care. Dozens died. The Ethiopian government said they were suspected of supporting the TPLF. Most of them were later released without charge.

The conflict in Africa’s second most populous country has killed thousands, displaced millions and starved parts of Tigray. Nearly all of Tigray’s 5.5 million people are in need of food aid, but the latest round of violence has halted all humanitarian convoys.

The war is rooted in old grievances between ethnic groups, built up over decades of unrest, violent regime changes, territorial disputes between regions and long periods of authoritarian rule, most recently by a coalition dominated by the TPLF from 1991 to 2018.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has accused the TPLF of seeking to reaffirm Tigrayan dominance over Ethiopia, while the TPLF has accused him of centralizing power and suppressing the Tigrayans. Each side rejects the other’s story.

THE ROLE OF ERITREAA

Verifying claims and counterclaims about events on the ground in Tigray is difficult because reporters are denied access to the region, which has had few communications links with the outside world since government forces withdrew in mid-2021.

A humanitarian worker in the Tigrayan city of Shire told Reuters that witnesses reported heavy artillery shelling from Eritrea to Tigray around the city of Shiraro on Wednesday and in the early hours of Thursday.

An Ethiopian government-affiliated militia leader based in Gondar in the Amhara region south of Tigray cited frontline contacts who said there had been “heavy shelling from our side” targeting the Tigrayan trenches around Shiraro.

Eritrea fought a war against Ethiopia, then led by the TPLF, in 1998-2000 and has remained an enemy of the TPLF. It sent troops to Tigray to support the Ethiopian army immediately after fighting broke out in November 2020.

The Eritrean government announced a ceasefire in March, but in May Eritrean forces fired at least 23 shells at Shiraro, killing a 14-year-old girl and injuring 18, a UN bulletin said. . Eritrea did not respond to requests for comment at the time.

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Report by the editors of Nairobi; Writing by Estelle Shirbon and George Obulutsa; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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