AfricaWorld News

Ethiopia seizes town in Tigray as conflict spreads to neighboring Eritrea

The situation remains volatile in Ethiopia's northernmost region of Tigray, where military forces have liberated a town amid an escalation of violence that has displaced thousands of civilians and sparked fears of an imminent civil war in the East African country.

Thirteen days after a conflict erupted between Ethiopian troops and local forces in Tigray, the governmentsaid on Monday that Tigray’s forces “were defeated in Alamata,” a town near the border with Amhara regional state.

“As the TPLF (Tigray’s ruling party) militia were defeated in Alamata, they fled taking along around 10,000 prisoners,” the government’s taskforce announced on Twitter.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the army offensive in the restive Tigray region early this month, in response to a deadly attack on an army base that killed at least 54 people from the ethnic Amhara group in the Oromia region.

Abiy accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — the region’s ruling party — of having staged the attack.

On Sunday, the Tigrayan forces fired rockets across the border into neighboring Eritrea, accusing the Ethiopian government of using an Eritrean airport to attack Tigray.

Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael alleged that there was a coordinated attack by Ethiopian special forces and troops from Eritrea.

But Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed said last week that his country was not involved in the conflict.

Abiy also denied the accusations in a tweet, saying that Ethiopia was “more than capable of attaining the objectives of the operation by itself.”

He also said army officers were murdered in cold blood.

In the meantime, the leader of Tigray region urged the UN and African Union to condemn Abiy’s government for what he called the use of high-tech weaponry in the conflict.

Gebremichael said that Abiy’s government is “waging this war on the people of Tigray and he is responsible for the purposeful infliction of human suffering on the people and destruction of major infrastructure projects like the Tekeze Dam and the Wolkait Sugar Factory by airstrikes.”

The conflict has displaced at least 20,000 Ethiopians, according to the United Nations.

The region has seen other acts of violence recently but there has so far been no known link with the Tigray region.

On Saturday night, gunmen killed at least 34 people on a passenger bus in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuzng, according to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

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