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Fighting resumes in northern Ethiopia, each side blames the other

The rebel authorities in Tigray first accused the Ethiopian federal army of launching a "large-scale offensive" against their positions, before the Ethiopian government in turn accused them of "breaking" the truce.

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Fighting resumes in northern Ethiopia, each side blames the other

The rebel authorities in Tigray first accused the Ethiopian federal army of launching a "large-scale offensive" against their positions, before the Ethiopian government in turn accused them of "breaking" the truce.

Ethiopian federal forces "launched an offensive early this (Wednesday) morning around 5 a.m. (0200 GMT), we are defending our positions," a spokesman for the rebel authorities in Tigray, Getachew Reda, told AFP. AFP from Nairobi.

On Twitter, he spoke of "a large-scale offensive" launched against the "positions on the southern front" of the Tigrayan rebels.

"Disregarding the many peace offers presented by the Ethiopian government", the rebel forces in Tigray "launched an attack today at 0500" (0200 GMT) and "broke the truce", the government replied in a statement.

"Our valiant defense forces and all our security forces are responding victoriously and in a coordinated manner to this attack", continues the government, which calls on the international community to exert "force pressure" on the rebel authorities in Tigray.

The region is largely cut off from the rest of the country and it is impossible to verify the claims of either side independently.

- Border areas -

These fights are the first of magnitude reported since a truce concluded at the end of March by the two camps and so far largely respected.

Both government and rebels reported on Wednesday fighting around the southeastern tip of Tigray, bordering the neighboring regions of Amhara to the west and Afar to the east.

"The offensive on this front (...) aims to occupy southern Tigray," accuse the Tigrayan rebels in a statement.

The Amhara Fano militia - which supports government forces against the rebels in Tigray - says the fighting is taking place in the areas of Mehago and Jemedo in the Amhara region, not far from that of Kobo, also in the Amhara region and occupied by the Tigray rebels since a counter-offensive in 2021.

The Fano militia claims that no fighting is currently taking place in Tigray itself, without it being possible to confirm this from an independent source.

The APDA, an NGO active in the Afar region, for its part reported fighting in a border area between this region and the south-east of Tigray.

"Federal forces are present in numbers (in the area) of Yallo and are pushing 'Tigrayan rebels' out of Afar".

- Engagements - 

The tone had risen in recent days between the federal government and the Tigrayan rebels, each accusing the other of preparing to resume hostilities, despite repeated commitments from both sides over the past two months in favor of negotiations that do not still haven't started.

On Tuesday, the Ethiopian federal army accused the Tigrayan rebels of "defaming" it by accusing it of "moving towards their positions" or "bombing" them.

The African Union (AU), which has its headquarters in Addis Ababa and is leading efforts to bring the belligerents to the negotiating table, had still not reacted early Wednesday afternoon to the resumption of fighting.

The conflict in Tigray began in November 2020, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the Ethiopian army there to dislodge regional authorities whom he accused of attacking military bases there, after challenging his authority since. several months.

The Ethiopian federal army has received support from regional forces and Amhara militias as well as an expeditionary force from neighboring Eritrea, troops still present in western Tigray.

After initially retreating, Tigrayan rebels regained control of most of the region in a mid-2021 counteroffensive in which they entered neighboring Amhara and Afar.

The conflict has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in Tigray, where the economic fabric has been destroyed and which is deprived of essential services (electricity, telecommunications or banking services).

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