Ethiopia intensifies airstrikes against Tigray forces in Amhara

Monday October 11 2021
Young pro-TPLF soldiers

Young pro-TPLF soldiers. Ethiopia’s war in Tigray, officially known as the Law Enforcement Operation, has been costly both in terms of finances and human life. PHOTO | AFP


The Ethiopian national army has reportedly launched heavy air and ground offensives against positions of Tigray forces in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia.

Reuters quoted Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesman Getachew Reda and a diplomatic source saying that the rebels had been under airstrikes and heavy artillery fire in the past few days.

"There is a massive build-up of forces on all fronts ... we are not sure which front they are seriously launching an offensive," said Getachew.

"There are artillery and drones being used," added Getachew, who once was Ethiopian communication minister.

The TPLF official said a series of airstrikes had begun on Thursday and were intensified on Friday, clustered around three areas — near the towns of Wergessa, and of Wegel Tena and in the east, on the road linking the region of Afar to Amhara.

The EastAfrican has learnt that during the past couple of weeks, there had not been any significant reports of fighting from either side of the warring factions.


Drive out Tigray forces

However, the newly reported attacks could be seen as a sign that the Ethiopian army is launching a new major offensive in a bid to drive out the Tigray forces from the larger part of the Amhara region.

On Thursday, Amhara region spokesperson Gizachew Muluneh tweeted, "In order to liberate our people who are suffering due to the terrorist TPLF, there might be irreversible operations in all fronts, at any time or hour."

His tweet, which was reported by international media, has angered the Ethiopian government and top military officials.

Ethiopian Army chief of staff, Berhanu Jula, criticized Gizachew for "irresponsibly" making public the Ethiopian army's new massive offensives plans which were supposed to be a secret.

"This individual has sold out a national security secret" Berhanu said, further warning such government officials to refrain from making military related statements which they are not mandated to announce.

Curfew re-imposed

As fighting between TPLF and Ethiopian army and its allies gets close to Dessi, one of the largest cities in Amhara region, the city's administration Sunday re-imposed a curfew and other restrictions.

Since the Tigray conflict broke out last November, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced.

The humanitarian situation in Tigray remains dire.

Currently, more than 5.2 million people, about 90 per cent of the population in Tigray, are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.

According to the UN, hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans are also in a famine-like situation.

The United Nations and other international aid organisations have blamed Addis Ababa for the worsening humanitarian crisis in Tigray

Aid agencies repeatedly accuse Ethiopia of imposing blockade to the region, an allegation Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed’s government denies.