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Crisis in Tigray: Ethiopia launches airstrikes in the Tigray region as Abiy moves to impose federal control



Abiy said the government “was forced to take law enforcement measures to effectively deal with the relentless aggression caused by the violation of the TPLF group”, Abiy said in a statement giving a state of emergency. The 6-month grant was approved earlier this week.

Abiy said the state of the emergency task force, commanded by the armed forces chief of staff, has been established with the power to disarm security forces at Tigray, impose curfews and restraints of movement, at the same time detain anyone suspected of participating illegally in activities “endangering the constitutional order.”

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The developments intensify conflicts, including recent clashes in Tigray areas between the federal government and the TPLF, which rule the country as part of the coalition until in 2018, when Abiy took power.

Fighting broke out on Wednesday after Abiy accused the rulers of the region of attacking government military bases and trying to steal artillery and military equipment.

The conflict has generated an urgent international response over concerns about its impact on the Horn of Africa if fighting spread beyond Ethiopia’s borders. Sudan on Friday closed its border with Ethiopia.

Despite the efforts of the United Nations and the African Union to mediate during the conflict, there is little evidence that Abiy, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is willing to step back into full-scale confrontation and initiate negotiations with the TPLF.

On Thursday, Birhanu Jula, deputy commander of the Ethiopian National Defense Force, said more government troops were being dispatched to the area and he announced that Ethiopia was engaged in a “surprise war”. at Tigray.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday expressed warnings of the growing conflict and joined others in calling for a de-escalation of tensions.

“Ethiopia’s stability is very important to the entire Horn of Africa region,” Guterres said Friday on Twitter. “I call for immediate relief and peaceful settlement of disputes.”

An international humanitarian official, unnamed for safety issues, said the region’s capital Mekele on Friday was calm. Reuters, quoting a humanitarian officer at Tigray, said the scattered sounds of shelling near the Tigray-Amhara border were heard in the early hours of Friday.

Tensions have risen for months between the federal government and Tigray, which held local elections in September even though all polls were frozen by the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, lawmakers suspended funding for the regional government.

William Davison, an Ethiopian expert for the International Crisis Group, said Abiy’s ultimate goal is to remove the leadership of the TPLF but admits that would probably be difficult to do.

“The federal government’s intention is to remove the leadership of the TPLF from power in Tigray,” he said. According to Davison, forcing the TPLF leadership to resign or arrest them will likely face strong resistance from the region’s large paramilitary forces and local militias.

With tensions between the governments of Abiy and Tigray increasing in recent months, the International Crisis Group said the federal army had been building up for weeks on the Tigray’s southern flank, while the Eritrean forces were in gathered at the border with the north side of Tigray.

Davison said the overthrow of the regional leadership would require a “very strong military intervention and an intervention that could clearly be resisted by Tigray.” . . and thus we can see quite a serious loss. “

Debretsion Gebremichael, president of the Tigray region, told reporters on Thursday, “We are in a position to protect ourselves from the enemies that have waged war in the Tigray area.”

The country is already the second largest refugee population in Africa, according to the United Nations Refugee Service.

“If conflict intensifies, we can expect a large number of people potentially displaced,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Regional Director Nigel Tricks. “All flights, including humanitarian agencies, have been restricted to the region, which could ultimately affect our ability to provide humanitarian assistance.”

Wroughton reports from Cape Town.




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