Heavy fighting kills 20 in region bordering Tigray: official | News24

A member of the Amhara Special Forces watches on on the border crossing with Eritrea whereas the place an Imperial Ethiopian flag waves, in Humera, Ethiopia, on November 22, 2020.

  • About 70 000 individuals have been affected within the heavy combating between rebels and pro-government forces.
  • Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed despatched troops into Tigray final November to oust the area’s ruling occasion.
  • A ten-vehicle World Food Programme convoy additionally got here underneath assault in Afar on the weekend.

At least 20 civilians have been killed and tens of 1000’s displaced in “heavy fighting” between rebels and pro-government forces in Ethiopia’s Afar area, which neighbours war-hit Tigray, an official informed AFP on Thursday.

The sustained clashes in Afar spotlight the potential for Ethiopia’s eight-month-old battle to increase nicely past Tigray, the place 1000’s of individuals have already been killed and a whole bunch of 1000’s pushed into famine, based on the United Nations.

Tigrayan rebels on the weekend carried out what spokesman Getachew Reda described as a “very limited action” in Afar focusing on particular forces and militia fighters from the Oromia area, Ethiopia’s largest.

But Mohammed Hussen, an official with Ethiopia’s nationwide catastrophe response company primarily based in Afar, informed AFP Thursday the operations have been wider in scope and that civilians had been caught within the crossfire.

He mentioned:

The heavy combating continues to be persevering with. So completely about 70 000 are affected immediately and they’re displaced… More than 20 civilians are lifeless.

“They (the rebels) are trying to subjugate the Afars. So now the federal forces are joining the Afar special forces, the Afar local communities, the Afar militias. In the last days the Afars were fighting and protecting themselves.”

Getachew, the insurgent spokesman, dismissed claims Tigrayan rebels had killed civilians as “flat-out lies.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed despatched troops into Tigray final November to oust the area’s ruling occasion, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a transfer he mentioned was in response to TPLF assaults on federal military camps.

ALSO READ | Ethiopia’s Abiy boasts of military might despite rebel gains

Though the 2019 Nobel Peace laureate declared victory later that month, TPLF leaders remained on the run and combating dragged on.

Last month the warfare took a surprising flip when pro-TPLF fighters reclaimed the Tigray capital Mekele and Abiy declared a unilateral ceasefire.

Yet clashes have continued and officers from six areas and town of Dire Dawa have since mentioned they might ship troops to again up authorities forces.

– Aid disrupted –

The combating in Afar has already disrupted assist distribution to Tigray.

A ten-vehicle World Food Programme convoy got here underneath assault in Afar on the weekend, prompting the UN company to droop convoys departing from the regional capital Semera.

The route through Semera into Tigray had turn into vital for assist supply in latest weeks after two key bridges alongside different routes have been destroyed in late June.

A UN safety discover seen by AFP indicated that heavy combating pitting Afar particular forces and federal troopers in opposition to the TPLF passed off in Awra and Ewa districts on Wednesday.

Those districts lie east of southern Tigray and northern Amhara, the place 1000’s of militia fighters have been mobilising in latest days.

The highway into Ethiopia through Djibouti’s port, situated east of Afar, is important for the landlocked nation, elevating hypothesis that Tigrayan rebels would possibly attempt to choke it off.

Mohammed mentioned Thursday the highway was “open” and “very safe”, including that any claims on the contrary have been TPLF “propaganda”.

– Refugee deaths –

Beyond Afar, latest combating has occurred in western and southern Tigray, disputed territories that have been occupied by forces from Ethiopia’s Amhara area, which borders Tigray to the south, in the beginning of the warfare.

Two camps housing 1000’s of Eritrean refugees have been caught up in hostilities in western Tigray, triggering UN alarm over their security.

On Thursday the federal government’s Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) mentioned a minimum of six refugees have been reported to have been killed by TPLF “militants”.

The UN had beforehand confirmed one demise.

ALSO READ | Tigray rebel chief calls for political solution to conflict in Ethiopia

ARRA accused the TPLF of deploying heavy artillery within the camps, looting autos and warehouses and stopping refugees from leaving – creating what’s “tantamount to a hostage situation”.

Getachew Reda informed AFP earlier this week that pro-TPLF forces had no intention of harming refugees.

– Pro-army rally –

In Addis Ababa Thursday, tens of 1000’s of individuals joined a rally to indicate assist for the military.

Demonstrators hoisted indicators denouncing the TPLF as “Ethiopia’s cancer” and proclaiming that the military “stands for truth and justice”.

Addis Ababa mayor Adanech Abiebie, whose workplace organised the rally, mentioned the warfare “is being wrapped up with victory”.

She accused the TPLF of working with international media “to defame our army’s name”.

Demonstrators additionally criticised alleged meddling by international media and diplomats.

“Ethiopia is a sovereign country, and interfering in Ethiopia’s sovereignty is forbidden,” 39-year-old Abeba Nega informed AFP.

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