Ethiopia truce broken as both sides trade blame

Ethiopia’s government and rebels in the restive Tigray region traded blame as fighting erupted on Wednesday, ending  months-long truce and severely denting hopes for lasting peace.

A government statement said Tigray rebels carried out attacks on Ethiopian forces near Kobo district and “have effectively broken the cease-fire”.

The attacks began around dawn “on the Eastern Front; from Bisober, Zobel and Tekulshe direction,” the statement said.

However, Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said Ethiopian forces launched a “large-scale offensive” on rebel positions.

“The regime’s well-orchestrated campaign and the international community has now been revealed for the drama that it has always been,” he said on Twitter.

A statement from the military command of Tigrayan forces said an “extensive offensive” started “in the direction of Chobe Ber, Janora, Gubagala, Yalow, Alamata, Bala and Bisober.”

It said the assault was “designed as an auxiliary attack to enable the occupation of Southern Tigray,” with the “primary offensive” expected “from Western Tigray and Western Gondar.”

There was a lull in the war since March after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government declared a unilateral truce after nearly two years of fighting.

The TPLF last week rejected talks under the mediation of the African Union, while the government insists that remains the only avenue for dialogue.

Thousands, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced since the armed conflict began in November 2020, with the United Nations (UN) blaming both sides for the deaths.

The UN has warned that Tigray “stands on the edge of a humanitarian disaster,” with more than 40 per cent of the region’s estimated 6 million people in need of emergency assistance.

Ethiopia on Thursday described as “unethical” comments made by the head of the World Health Organisation concerning the humanitarian situation in Tigray, the country’s northernmost region. 

“The comment is one among many unethical ones being made by the WHO Director General and is not surprising,” said Billene Seyoum, press secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Using a race card and one’s multilateral position to garner the sympathy of the global north for personal, partisan politics is quite unbecoming of such a high profile position,” she said. -BBC

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