Military hostilities between Ethiopian government forces and Tigrayan forces has resumed after a months-long ceasefire, with both sides blaming the other for the attack.
The Ethiopian government confirmed clashes between its forces and Tigrayan fighters, in a statement from their Facebook page on Wednesday. The government accused Tigrayan forces of launching an attack at 5am local time on Wednesday and “violated the ceasefire.”
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which currently controls the northern Tigray region, claimed government forces launched an early morning “extensive offensive” on its southern front and claimed the government was aided by Amhara special forces and volunteer fighters.
The TPLF also alleged that the government and its allies had been positioning troops around the southern border for five days prior.
Active fighting between the two forces had died down since March after the government declared a humanitarian truce and both agreed to observe a ceasefire.
Setback to peace talks
There are fears the renewed hostilities will setback the progress made towards peace talks between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and leaders of the TPLF.
Both had shown potential interest in talks in June that led Abiy to establish a committee to negotiate peace talks.
But the two have put out opposing statements in recent weeks with the TPLF expressing major concerns over the African Union’s (AU) mediation and demanding the government restore major services such as banking and communication to Tigray before any talks can hold.
The federal government, however, insists there must be no preconditions set before the AU intervenes.
The two sides have been locked in conflict since war erupted in Tigray in November 2020 and has since spilled over into neighboring Amhara and Afar.
The conflict has seen thousands killed and set a world record for displacements in 2021, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.
The resumption of fighting leads to fears of exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis with over 90% of the region in desperate need of aid, according to the United Nations.
Humanitarian aid began entering Tigray earlier this year after a long period of disruption. But without sufficient fuel in the region to distribute the supplies, the aid has not been effective in curbing the crisis as the rate of malnutrition in the region “skyrocketed,” according to the latest report from the World Food Program.
“The government is adamant that peace is always the best solution,” the government statement read. However, it emphasized that it would “take all necessary steps to protect the country,” adding “government and security forces are mobilizing all of their resources and capabilities.”