Newsdeck

Tigray's Eritrean escalation

Ethiopia’s rebellious Tigray party accuses Eritrea of attacking its forces

Ethiopian National Defence Force soldiers train with a DShK 1938, a Soviet heavy machine gun, in their camp at an undisclosed location in Ethiopia on 16 September 2021. (Photo: Amanuel Sileshi / AFP)

ADDIS ABABA, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Tigray People's Liberation Front, the party that controls most of the northern Ethiopia region of Tigray, on Sunday accused Eritrea of attacking its troops.

“The Eritrean military launched fresh attacks against our forces yesterday in Sigem Kofolo… located in Northwestern Tigray close to Sheraro town,” TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda wrote on Twitter.

Reuters could not verify the alleged attack as the communication network is down in the area.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ethiopia’s military spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane and government spokesman Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum did not respond to a request for comment.

War broke out in the mountainous region of 5 million people 14 months ago, pitting Tigrayan forces against federal troops backed by their Eritrean counterparts.

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki told the state-run Eri-TV on Saturday that his troops would strive to prevent Tigrayan forces from attacking his country, or threatening the stability of Ethiopia.

Eritrean forces fought against Tigrayan forces since the start of the war in support of Abiy’s troops, but both nations spent the first five months of the war denying the Eritrean presence.

The Eritrean troops withdrew from most of the region in June, the same month that Ethiopian federal troops also withdrew.

Last month, Tigrayan forces withdrew from neighbouring regions they had invaded in July, in a step towards a potential ceasefire.

Reuters has reported atrocities by all sides, including Eritrea, which the parties to the fighting have denied.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia has killed thousands of civilians and displaced millions. (Reporting by Addis Ababa Newsroom Writing by Duncan Miriri Editing by Frances Kerry)

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