Rebels accuse Ethiopia of massive Tigray offensive

Forces in the Tigray region of Ethiopia have accused the government and its allies from neighbouring Eritrea of launching “massive offensives” in the north-west of the region.

A day earlier, the Ethiopian government said the Tigrayans were expanding the fighting along the country’s borders with Sudan.

There have been international calls for an end to the renewed violence.

Fighting in Ethiopia has spread to several fronts since a five-month humanitarian ceasefire was shattered a week ago.

A top official for the Tigrayan forces said on Twitter that new offensives have been launched against them from four different directions.

It’s not possible to verify these claims and the government in Addis Ababa has not commented.

There’s a growing alarm of the resumption of violence – the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said Washington was “deeply concerned”.

Both sides say they would welcome a peaceful resolution to Ethiopia’s civil war but that hasn’t stopped the guns from firing.

And the United Nations (UN) says children are among the victims – when villages were shelled in Afar, Tigray’s eastern neighbour.

The war in Ethiopia, between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has resumed at full scale. The route back to negotiations is uncertain at best.

The two sides agree that the first shots were fired in the early morning of August 24 on the southern borders of Tigray, where it adjoins the neighbouring Amhara state at the town of Kobo. Each side blames the other for firing those shots.

What is clear – from information obtained from Western diplomats – is that the Ethiopian National Defence Force and its allied Amhara militia, known as the Fano, had mobilised a huge force to that location over prior weeks.

Meanwhile, mass conscription by the TPLF had swelled its ranks and it had devoted much of its resources to training and rearming, although it has denied forced recruitment.

It captured a huge arsenal from the federal army in last year’s fighting, and there are rumours that it had also bought new weapons from abroad.

Tensions were building. And yet, just a few weeks ago, there was optimism that peace talks might soon be under way. -BBC

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