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Ethiopian military declares it is 'at war' with Tigray leaders

Fears of civil conflict as air raids and artillery battles reported in TPLF and federal government standoff

Debretsion Gebremichael, Tigray’s president, has described the Ethiopian government’s actions as an invasion. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Ethiopia’s military has said it is “at war” with the ruling party of the country’s northern Tigray region, amid unconfirmed reports of fighting, artillery duels and air raids.

There appears little hope of averting conflict in Africa’s second most populous country, with senior officials on both sides apparently determined to seek military advantage before any negotiations designed to defuse the crisis.

Analysts and diplomats have been warning for weeks that a standoff between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) could plunge Ethiopia into a bitter and bloody civil conflict.

“Our country has entered into a war it didn’t anticipate. This war is shameful, it is senseless,” Berhanu Jula Gelalcha, Ethiopia’s deputy chief of defence staff, told a press conference in Addis Ababa on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, accused the TPLF of attacking a military camp in the region and attempting to loot military assets.

The TPLF denies the attack occurred and accuses Abiy of concocting the story to justify deploying the military against the organisation.

“What has been initiated against us is clearly a war, an invasion …. This is a war we’re conducting to preserve our existence,” Debretsion Gebremichael, chair of the TPLF and president of the Tigray region, said at a press conference. Read more...


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