Nairobi, Kenya (AP) – Ethiopia’s prime minister said on Friday that his government had launched airstrikes against forces in the country’s well-armed Tigris region. Attacks in many places retaliated by “completely destroying rockets and other heavy weapons.”
Abi Ahmed’s evening announcement marks another escalation of the clashes this week One of Africa’s most powerful and populous nations could be plunged into civil war. The conflict is provoking former allies in the country’s ruling coalition, with the federal government and the regional government now considering each other illegal.
There was no mention of casualties when Abi called the regional government the Tigre People’s Liberation Front a “first round operation.” The air force destroyed heavy weapons in and around McClellan, the capital of Tigray, accusing the DPLF of “having a desire to use them.”
The move will continue, Abby said, “until the military junta is held accountable by law.” He warned the people of Tigre: “I advise you to limit group movements in the cities to avoid unforeseen danger.”
There has been no immediate response from the Tigris government, while the region is increasingly out of the box due to operational restrictions and a six-month state of emergency imposed by the federal government.
The military operation began early Wednesday morning following Abe’s accusation that the Tigris government had carried out a terrorist attack on a military base. He stressed on Friday that several months of trying to resolve differences with the regional government had failed. Now, the move has “clear, defined and achievable objectives: to restore the rule of law and constitutional order,” he said.
With that, the Prime Minister appeared to close the door on dialogue, with some experts and diplomats saying it was much needed.
The prime minister, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his political reforms, is now facing his biggest test. The DPLF, which dominated the government of Ethiopia before taking office in 2018, felt marginalized by the change of power and held controversial local elections in September to oppose the federal government.
The northern Tigre region is now increasingly disconnected. The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority said airports in McClellan and the regional cities of Shire, Axam and Humera were closed. In Sudan, the acting governor of the province of Qasla said its border with northern Ethiopia was closed “until further notice” due to tensions.
Experts say the civil war will wreak havoc and destabilize Africa’s horn. The United Nations says he has spoken with the president of the Ethiopian-based African Union and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok as the current head of the regional camp.
Aid groups warn of a humanitarian catastrophe if the COVID-19 epidemic continues to fight one of the many crises.
Communications at Tigray have been completely cut off. They were missing by the time Abby made her early Wednesday announcement.
Abi said Friday that the attack on a military base was “the last straw.”
Ethiopia’s military says it is sending troops to Tigre from across the country. “We are ready to be martyrs,” said Tigre leader. Fatalities have been reported on both sides.
It was challenging to check both side versions of events.
At least one fighter jet flew upwards, but it has not been confirmed that the bombs were dropped, a source in Ethiopia told the Associated Press, who spoke anonymously because they did not have the authority to speak to the media about the issue. Thursday saw heavy fighting and shelling, with roads leading to Tigre closed.
The federal government said Friday that public meetings and groups of more than four will not be allowed in Tigray and that no one other than law enforcement will be able to carry weapons.
Federal police insist that its members, who hold 22 locations across Tigre, have come under attack from DPLF forces in recent days.
UN Human rights leader Michael Bachelet has called on the Ethiopian federal government to restore Internet and telephone services, saying “communications have severely hampered the ability to monitor ground conditions, especially the impact of conflicts on local people.” ”
But something word began to come out. On Friday, the International Rescue Team received its first message from colleagues in Tigray.
“There are no active antagonisms in the areas where we work,” said George Readings, who heads the group’s global crisis analysis. But “we know the situation is very tense.”
About 90,000 people in Tigray receive IRC services, and he was concerned about how the conflicts would affect “many already vulnerable”.
Tigre receives refugees from Eritrea – readings that say the border is open – and the area has been badly affected by locust eruptions. “I should mention that flooding has also occurred,” he said. “This is a very delicate situation.”
Fuel is available for next month at IRC’s Tigre operations. “Then, there’s a real question,” if the trip is banned and fighting continues, Readings said.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
Tigre borders Eritrea, which fought with Ethiopia for many years before the two countries made peace in 2018. The Tigris government and Eritrea are not uniting, and this week the DPLF accused Eritrea of merging with Ethiopia’s central government.
Eritrea’s Ministry of Information said on Friday that “the immediate cause of the current conflict this week is the reckless and diversified attack by the TPLF, which has been stationed in the Tigre region for decades by groups of Ethiopian armed forces – Northern Command.”
Messeret report from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nona El Hennavi contributed in Cairo.