- Catherine Byaruhanga
- BBC correspondent in Africa
2 hours ago
A spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front said that the Eritrean forces have started a comprehensive attack on the territory of the northern region of Ethiopia, across the common border between the two countries.
The US envoy said he was aware of the Eritrean forces crossing the international border between the two countries, into the territory of Tigray. He denounced it.
The Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have not commented on these allegations so far.
If the entry of the Eritrean forces into Tigray is confirmed, this will constitute a clear escalation, after the collapse of the ceasefire that lasted 5 months weeks ago.
The conflict erupted at the end of 2020, after a major dispute between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which controls the territory.
Eritrea intervened in support of the government and the federal army in Ethiopia, before there were reports that its forces had completely withdrawn at the end of last year.
On Tuesday, Gitachu Reda, a spokesman for the Tigray Liberation Front, said fierce battles are taking place in separate areas of the border areas between Eritrea and the Tigray region.
Reda added, in a tweet on his Twitter account, “Eritrea is pushing its entire army, in addition to the reserve forces, and our forces are defending their positions heroically,” noting that Ethiopia is also participating with its forces in the attack.
The US envoy to the region, Mike Hammer, condemned what is happening, saying that his country is following the movements of Eritrean forces across the international border with Ethiopia.
Hammer said that the Eritrean moves are “deeply alarming, and we condemn them. The presence of the Eritrean forces, in Ethiopia, does nothing but complicate matters further, and inflames the already tragic situation.”
Thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the more than two-year conflict.
Entry into the Tigray region remains very complicated, as the Ethiopian authorities deny access to it, making it more difficult to obtain reliable and independent information about what is happening there.
Two workers for relief agencies told Reuters news agency that the battles are taking place on the border between Eritrea and Tigray region. But they did not confirm the incursion of Eritrean forces into the territory.
Last week, BBC Tigrinya reported that Eritrea had mobilized reserves to support its military position near the border.
Eyewitnesses reported that reinforcements were noticeable in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, and the second largest city in the country, Keren, in addition to Tsinai in the west of the country, and other cities.
But Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebramiskel said that a “small number” of reservists had been called up, and denied reports that the reservists had been called up entirely.