0250 GMT January 17, 2021
Hundreds have died, at least 20,000 refugees have fled to Sudan and there have been reports of atrocities since Abiy ordered airstrikes and a ground offensive against Tigray’s rulers for defying his authority, Reuters reported.
The conflict could jeopardize a recent economic opening and stir up ethnic bloodshed elsewhere around Africa’s second most populous nation.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs the region of more than five million people, has accused Eritrea of sending tanks and thousands of soldiers over the border to support Ethiopian federal troops. Asmara denies that.
A task force set up by Abiy to handle the government’s response to the crisis, said troops had “liberated” the town of Alamata from the TPLF. “They fled, taking along around 10,000 prisoners,” it added, without specifying where those were from.
TPLF leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, urged the United Nations and African Union to condemn Ethiopia’s federal troops, accusing them of using of high-tech weaponry including drones in attacks he said smashed a dam and a sugar factory.
The fighting has spread beyond Tigray into Amhara, whose local forces are allied with Abiy’s forces. On Friday, rockets were fired at two airports in Amhara in what the TPLF said was retaliation for government airstrikes.
Tigray leaders accuse Abiy, who is from the largest Oromo ethnic group and Africa’s youngest leader, of persecuting them and purging them from government and security forces over the last two years. He says they rose up against him by attacking a military base.
Amnesty International has denounced the killing of scores and possibly hundreds of civilian laborers in a massacre that both sides have blamed on each other.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has called on the warring parties in Ethiopia to show restraint and expressed hope that the government there will secure peace through proper methods, according to sputniknews.com.