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African Union urges ceasefire in northern Ethiopia as thousands flee escalating conflict in Tigrayan region

The African Union called for a ceasefire in north Ethiopia where federal troops are fighting local Tigrayan authorities in an escalating conflict that has already forced more than 2,500 people to flee into neighbouring Sudan and that some fear could slide into civil war.

The African Union (AU) called for a ceasefire in north Ethiopia where federal troops fighting the local Tigrayan authorities were reported to have captured an airport on Tuesday while regional forces controlled a government military base.

About 2,500 Ethiopians have fled the fighting into neighbouring Sudan, with the refugee exodus expected to swell, an official there said.

Hundreds have died in air strikes and fighting in an escalating conflict some fear could slide into civil war given deep animosity between the Tigrayans and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who comes from the largest Oromo ethnic group.

The Tigray area, in Ethiopia’s north, is one of nine regions in the country. Tensions have been growing between the well-armed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Abiy’s government for months as the northerners felt marginalized by Abiy’s reforms.

The TPLF also objected to the delay of Ethiopia’s national election, blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, and the extension of Abiy’s stay in office. The Tigray region subsequently defied the federal government by holding a local election, leading to the current situation where each government now regards the other as illegal.

Various Tigrayan forces have surrendered, the state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported. Meanwhile, members of the Amhara Special Force patrol in Soroka village near a border with Tigray, Ethiopia. (Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Various Tigrayan forces surrendered during the seizure of Humera airport, near the border with Sudan and Eritrea, while the military also captured a road leading from the town to the Sudanese border, the state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported.

The Ethiopian Press Agency posted photos that it said showed federal soldiers, backed by forces from the neighbouring Amhara region, at the airport.

However, Humera residents were going about their lives normally, the local government’s communication office said,…

Thomson Reuters

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