Recent airstrikes against Tigrayan forces in Ethiopia’s northern region of Amhara have intensified, a spokesman for the Tigrayan forces said on Friday, which he said could presage a ground push against the Tigrayan forces by the Ethiopian military and its allies.
The Ethiopian military and its allies have been fighting forces from the northern region of Tigray for 11 months. Tigrayan forces pushed into Amhara region, whose forces have been fighting alongside the government, in July.
According to Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the region’s ruling party, ,there is a massive build up of forces on all fronts. He is however not sure which front is seriously launching an offensive move.
Fighting has been going on since November 2020, destabilising the populous country in the Horn of Africa, leaving thousands of people dead with 350,000 others living in famine conditions.
Eritrean soldiers are also fighting in Tigray for the Ethiopian the government. All sides have been accused of atrocities.
A power struggle, an election and a push for political reform are among several factors that led to the crisis.
The rift grew when the central government suspended funding for Tigray and cut ties with it in October. At the time, Tigray’s administration said this amounted to a “declaration of war”.
Tensions increased, and the eventual catalyst was when Tigrayan forces were accused of attacking army bases to steal weapons.
Mr Abiy said Tigray had crossed a “red line”.
The escalation came after months of feuding between Mr Abiy’s government and leaders of Tigray’s dominant political party.
For almost three decades, the party was at the centre of power, before it was sidelined by Mr Abiy, who took office in 2018 after anti-government protests.
Mr Abiy pursued reforms, but when Tigray resisted, the political crisis erupted into war.
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has confirmed that there are artillery and drones being used.
He further added that multiple airstrikes had begun on Thursday and intensified on Friday, clustered around three areas near the towns of Wurgessa, and of Wegel Tena and in the east, on the road linking the region of Afar to Amhara.
A diplomatic source confirmed to media that there had been airstrikes near Wurgessa. Reuters was unable to independently verify airstrikes in other areas.
Spokespeople for the Ethiopian military, Amhara regional government and prime minister’s office did not return calls seeking comment as always but the situation on the ground is closely being monitored.
The fighting since last November has displaced millions of people and pushed hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans into famine a situation the United Nations has blamed on a government blockade. The government denies it is blocking aid.
Diplomats fear the spreading fighting could destabilise Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation and an important regional power.
After the Tigrayan forces pushed into the regions neighbouring Tigray, Amhara and Afar – hundreds of thousands of residents there were forced to flee their homes and around 1.7 million people became dependent on food aid.
On Thursday, Amhara spokesperson Gizachew Muluneh tweeted, “In order to liberate our people who are suffering due to the terrorist TPLF, there might be irreversible operations in all fronts, at any time or hour.”
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