Ethiopian civil war

  1. Ethiopia retakes key towns from rebels - government

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A member of the Ethiopian Federal Forces holds a candle during a memorial service for the victims of the Tigray conflict organized by the city administration, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 3, 2021
    Image caption: The Ethiopian military appears to have regain much territory from the rebels in recent weeks

    The government of Ethiopia says it has retaken the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha seized last month by Tigrayan fighters.

    The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has not yet commented and there is no independent confirmation of the government's statement.

    The federal authorities claim they've made significant advances against the Tigrayans in recent days.

    It's believed that the use of drones has been key.

    The leader of the TPLF says his forces have withdrawn from parts of the Afar and Amhara regions.

    Debretsion Gebremichael said he didn't want to give details of why they had pulled back at a time when they were closing in on the capital Addis Ababa.

  2. Western nations condemn detention of Tigrayans in Ethiopia

    Shops in Addis Ababa
    Image caption: Many Tigrayan-owned shops and businesses have closed down in Addis Ababa

    Western powers have called on the Ethiopian government to stop detaining people based on their ethnicity.

    The US, UK and others cited reports by human rights groups that many Tigrayans were being rounded up, including priests, the elderly and mothers with their children.

    They said people were being held without charge in inhumane conditions.

    The government denies it is targeting any ethnic group.

    Individuals who are suspected of supporting the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and its ally the Oromo Liberation Army have been arrested, it says.

    The year-long war between Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian government and its allies has displaced millions of people.

    The government says it has made significant gains against Tigrayan forces in recent days.

    Read more:Mass arrests and ethnic profiling haunt Addis Ababa

  3. Tigrayan leader declines to explain 'withdrawal'

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Debretsion Gebremichael
    Image caption: TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael is based in his stronghold of Tigray in northern Ethiopia

    The leader of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia says Tigrayan forces have withdrawn from parts of the Afar and Amhara regions.

    Debretsion Gebremichael said he did not want to give details of why the Tigrayan forces had pulled back at a time when they were closing in on the capital Addis Ababa.

    The federal government last week announced it had seized key territory from the TPLF, including the historic town of Lalibela.

    The African Union is trying to broker a ceasefire, but has made little progress so far.

  4. We will not stop - Ethiopian military commander

    Haymanot Bejiga

    BBC News Amharic

    A top commander in Ethiopia’s army says no limits have been placed on where federal troops will take their fight in the ongoing civil war, only vowing that “we will not stop”.

    “War is full of uncertainties and one cannot be certain about everything. However, we will not stop,” Lt-Gen Bacha Debele told the BBC.

    “I cannot say we will pause once we reach Mekelle [the Tigray regional capital] or other places, rather we will recapture areas at the hands of Woyane [the TPLF]. We will follow and get rid of them. I cannot say we outlined to reach some specific areas at the moment.”

    Lt-Gen Bacha rejected a TPLF rebel statement, in which it said it had made a strategic withdrawal from areas that had been captured by federal forces.

    "They are ashamed to say that they have lost,” he said. “They want to please their masters who sent them,” he added, claiming the rebels were working for “big Westerners’’.

    Lt-Gen Bacha also told the BBC that the presence on the frontline of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had fuelled morale in the army.

    Asked on his position about efforts to bring peace to Ethiopia and end its year-long war, he told the BBC it was “not my business - my job is to fight. If I am told that negotiations have begun and to stop fighting, then I will stop.”

  5. Huge damage in Ethiopia's Amhara region - survey

    A survey conducted by Ethiopia's Amhara regional government has revealed that the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) carried out massive destruction and looting in five zones of the region, officials say.

    The regional planning and development bureau, which co-ordinated the survey, said it had occurred in areas the rebels still held and in areas retaken from them.

    The TPLF has not yet commented, but has previously denied similar allegations.

    The head of the bureau, Animut Belete, said the total cost of the destruction was estimated to be 280bn Ethiopian birr ($5.8bn, $4.4bn), but the amount was likely to rise as more reports came in.

    The survey covered 45 districts in five zones. It did not include the big city of Dessie or the industry hub of Kombolcha.

    He said the destruction was severe within the agriculture sector.

    "Three agricultural research institutes, vehicles, tractors and crops and irrigation infrastructure have been severely looted and damaged; livestock killed, looted and eaten," Mr Animut told BBC Amharic.

    Hospitals, schools, churches, mosques, businesses, roads and tourist sites had also been damaged, he said.

    "Students, workers and community members who have been trained in the enterprises have lost their jobs," he added.

    Damaged office
    Image caption: The scene of an office apparently left in chaos by the TPLF

    In the past few day, Ethiopia's federal government said it had retaken key towns and cities from the TPLF in Amhara and the neighbouring region of Afar. This included Lalibela, a Unesco world heritage site famous for its rock-hewn churches.

    The TPLF said it made a "strategic withdrawal".

    The federal government previously said that more than 2,000 schools and about 1,500 hospitals and health centres had been damaged and looted by the rebels in Amhara and Afar.

    The TPLF launched an offensive in the two regions in an attempt to reach the capital, Addis Ababa, and the border with Djibouti.

    It accused the Ethiopian military and allies forces of committing widespread atrocities in its stronghold of Tigray - allegations which they denied.

  6. Ethiopian forces retake key towns - government

    Ferdinand Omondi

    BBC News, Nairobi

    Men carrying Ethiopia flags
    Image caption: The year-long conflict in Ethiopia has led to a humanitarian crisis

    The Ethiopian government says its forces have claimed control of numerous strategic towns previously held by Tigrayan rebels.

    Government forces have broken a rebel defence line and recaptured several towns in north-western Amhara Regional State, according to Ethiopian state television.

    Gains by the military in Afar and Amhara would be a blow to Tigrayan forces, who had threatened to either march southwards on the capital, or eastwards and threaten a road linking landlocked Ethiopia to the port in Djibouti.

    The military campaign, now being led in person by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, was registering resounding victories, according to Communication Service Minister Legese Tulu.

    The claims cannot be independently verified.

    The rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) is yet to respond.

  7. Ethiopia says vital route into Tigray via Afar now clear

    A spokeswoman for Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says "the belligerence of the TPLF" is to blame for a blockage of aid into the Tigray region.

    The only viable overland route into Tigray has been through the neighbouring Afar region, and Mr Abiy's spokeswoman told journalists the rebels have been trying to "choke off the Afar corridor" but that federal forces had since cleared the way.

    The TPLF has previously blamed the government for the blocked route, while USAID says the government has "created de facto blockades, making communications, banking, and other vital services needed for aid efforts almost non-existent".

    More than five million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance in the Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions, according to the United Nations. It says 100 trucks a day are needed to reach Tigray alone to meet needs there.

    At the same press conference on Tuesday, the spokeswoman for Mr Abiy's office was also asked to name the foreign powers Ethiopia accuses of attempting to weaken the country.

    "I think the forces know who they are so I’ll leave it at that," she replied.

  8. Ethiopia's Tigray conflict: Drone strikes hit Mekelle

    Line Tsigab

    BBC Tigrinya

    Damaged roof
    Image caption: Photos from Mekelle show how buildings were damaged by the strike

    Ethiopia’s air force has carried out drone attacks in two places in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, witnesses say.

    The attacks appear to be part of the year-long conflict between the federal government and rebel forces from Tigray.

    The first drone strike hit at 09:00 local time in a residential neighbourhood known as Diaspora.

    Witnesses who spoke to the BBC said the attack had damaged homes.

    One resident described how his home had been destroyed.

    “We’re civilians and there is no military place around, but the shell fell on my home,” he said.

    “When the bombardment happened, I was with my family on the ground floor. We are alive, but my possessions, which I have gathered over 27 years, were utterly destroyed by the attack.”

    Another resident told the BBC: ”God saved my life. I lost my belongings, but that doesn’t matter, I can buy them with money.”

    BBC Tigrinya has seen video and pictures from sources in Mekelle which show damaged homes.

    Witnesses said a second strike hit the city at around 12:30 local time.

    When asked to comment, federal government spokesman Legesse Tulu told the BBC that he had no information on the latest assault.

    Mekelle has been hit from the air several times since last month.

  9. Ethiopia PM seen in combat gear after vowing to fight

    BBC World Service

    Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, in a rural location wearing a military uniform, after saying days ago that he would head to the frontline to direct the conflict.
    Image caption: Abiy Ahmed said days ago that he would head to the frontline to direct the conflict

    The Ethiopian government has announced new restrictions on reporting the war, in which Tigrayan rebels are said to be continuing their advance towards the capital.

    In a warning to news outlets and social media users, it has banned the reporting of any military movements or updates from the battlefield - unless the information has been approved by the government.

    Meanwhile state media have shown footage of the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, in a rural location wearing a military uniform, after saying days ago that he would head to the frontline to direct the conflict.

    In an interview he sounded defiant and said government troops had retaken some territory.

  10. Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: 'Why I am pro-peace'

    Video content

    Video caption: A personal view of the conflict in Ethiopia for a resident of Addis Ababa who is pro-peace

    A personal view of the conflict in Ethiopia for a resident of Addis Ababa who is pro-peace.

  11. UN calls for immediate end to fighting in Ethiopia

    New military recruits who are joining the Ethiopian National Defence Force hold Ethiopian national flags during the send-off ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 24, 2021.
    Image caption: The year-long conflict in Ethiopia has led to a humanitarian crisis

    UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate end to the fighting in Ethiopia.

    Mr Guterres, who was visiting Colombia to mark five years since a peace deal was signed with former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrillas, asked the Ethiopian government to follow the example.

    “The peace process here in Colombia inspires me to make an urgent appeal to the protagonists of the conflict in Ethiopia for an unconditional and immediate ceasefire to save the country,” he said.

    Mr Guterres said a ceasefire would “allow for an inter-Ethiopian dialogue to resolve the crisis and allow Ethiopia to contribute again to the stability of the region".

    It came as the US warned that there was no “military solution” to the conflict in the country, amid an escalation in fighting.

    A US Department of State spokesman said diplomacy was the "first, last, and only option" to the conflict.

    It followed reports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had joined the front line where government forces are battling with the Tigray rebel fighters - who say they are still advancing towards the capital Addis Ababa.

    The year-long conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands facing famine-like conditions in the north of Ethiopia.

    Thousands of people have been killed and millions forced from their homes.

  12. UK urges citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately

    Ethiopians waving the country's flags
    Image caption: There has been little progress to end the war in Ethiopia

    The UK has suspended Covid-19 rules for travellers from Ethiopia to allow British citizens to leave the country as the war between the government and northern Tigray rebels and their allies intensifies.

    “In the coming days we may see the fighting move closer to Addis Ababa, which could severely limit options for British nationals to leave Ethiopia," Vicky Ford, the Minister for Africa, said in a statement.

    She added that citizens must leave "immediately" and announced the UK government was offering financial help to assist those who want to leave.

    “Those who choose not to leave now should make preparations to shelter in a place of safety over the coming weeks. We cannot guarantee there will be options to leave Ethiopia in the future," she added.

    Efforts to get the warring sides to agree to a ceasefire have not succeeded so far.

    Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Monday that he would go to the front line, leaving Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen in charge of running state affairs.

  13. Ethiopia president denies feud with PM Abiy

    Ameyu Etana

    BBC Afaan Oromo

    Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde has denied a report by a Paris-based magazine, alleging she had disagreements with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over the year-long war that began in the northern Tigray region but has since spread to other parts of the country.

    The Africa Report claimed the seasoned diplomat "neither approves nor supports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s warmongering policy".

    Ms Sahle-Work said in her statement on Tuesday night that she had never met the story's author Francois Soudan, Editor-in-Chief of Jeune Afrique (the French version of the magazine).

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    "I don’t think it’s a coincident the story is out today. This is an attempt to show there is disagreements among leaders," she added.

    On Monday Mr Abiy said he would go to the frontline to fight the Tigray rebels.

    "Like many, I'm heartbroken. Fighting a civil war is particularly tragic," said Ms Sahle-Work, whose role as head of state is largely ceremonial.

    "It is up to us Ethiopians to find the way to resolve the conflict in our country. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has issued directives as leader of government, and we all engaged in putting our knowledge and skills to bear to follow the path that has been set."

    In past comments Ms Sahle-Work has said the government was keen to solve the conflict peacefully while hinting that the government had been provoked into war with Tigray rebels.

    The African Union has been leading efforts for warring sides to agree to a ceasefire, but there has been little progress.