Ethiopia: Aggressive fighting in Tigray shatters truce
Aggressive fighting has erupted between Ethiopian government forces and Tigrayan rebels in northern Ethiopia, shattering a five month long truce between the warring sides. Both the sides have repeatedly blamed the other for delayed negotiations towards ending the 21 month conflict in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populated nation.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has alleged that government forces and their allies on Wednesday had launched a large scale offensive towards southern Tigray. On the other hand, the government has accused the TPLF of making the first strike, saying it had “destroyed the truce”.
Getachew Reda, a TPLF spokesperson, told AFP, “They launched the offensive early this morning around 5am local time. We are defending our positions.” He said on Twitter that the offensive by Ethiopian forces and militias from Amhara had been launched “against our positions in the southern front”. The Ethiopian army said on Wednesday of having shot down a plane that was loaded with weapons for the Tigray rebels. The plane had “violated Ethiopian airspace” after flying over Sudan, the official Ethiopian news agency ENA reported.
“The plane that violated our airspace from Sudan (…) and which aimed to supply weapons to the terrorist group was shot down by our air force,” ENA said, quoting General Tesfaye Ayalew, with no specification regarding the origin of the aircraft or the date when it was shot down.
“Our valiant defense forces and all our security forces are responding victoriously and in a coordinated manner to this attack,” the government said, calling on the international community to pressurize the rebel authorities in Tigray.
Ethiopia’s government, led by Abiy Ahmed, has said of being ready for talks, but has asserted that the African Union must lead mediation efforts with Tigray forces. Tigray authorities have criticized the body’s efforts and urgently demanded resumption of telephone, banking and other services that have been cut off since war began for majority of 6 million people in the region. Earlier this month, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is an ethnic Tigrayan, had described the Tigray’s humanitarian crisis as “the worst disaster on Earth”, wondering aloud if the lack of global aid to region is due to “the color of the skin of the people in Tigray.”