Kidnappings, looting cited in Ethiopia’s Tigray after truce ends
Tigray (TPL) (AFP)
The Ethiopian government on Monday declared a unilateral ceasefire in the country’s largest province of Tigray after the death of five soldiers from a neighbouring country sparked unrest in the region.
The province, with a population of 2.2 million and located along the border with Eritrea, has been the scene of a series of skirmishes between soldiers from both countries.
The Tigray region was also the scene of a military clash in early October when Ethiopia closed the border with Eritrea after troops were accused of looting and raping women during a failed military operation.
Eritreans have accused soldiers of atrocities, and the border has since been closed for several weeks and has been reopened only on a few occasions.
Ethiopia’s army, which was stationed just outside the border after the fighting, has also been accused of sexually assaulting women and women under 18 years of age.
The fighting in Tigray has also prompted fears of a new crisis in the region’s already volatile political situation.
“The ceasefire came because it was clear that tensions were escalating across the border,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom told reporters.
“I said: ‘there is no more room for dialogue’ and we will have the ceasefire,” he added.
Tedros accused Eritrea’s army of perpetrating a recent round of brutal violence against civilians in the region which he said caused a humanitarian crisis.
Ethiopia’s government has repeatedly said it is only intervening in Tigray and the surrounding region in a bid to contain violence and stop a “rebellion” by its largely ethnic Eritrean population.
In the wake of the conflict, thousands fled the region, with some seeking haven in neighbouring Sudan and Jordan, while others sought refuge in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
With a population of 2.2 million, the province of Tigray is the largest by area in Ethiopia. Nearly 350,000 Tigrians live in the country’s capital of Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had called off the truce.
“The government has declared the unilateral ceasefire in Tigray following the escalation of violence there,�