Ethiopia’s nearly month-long war against rebellious northern forces may be transforming into a guerrilla conflict, experts said on Tuesday, even though federal troops declared victory after capturing the Tigrayan regional capital at the weekend.
Fighting since Nov. 4 is believed to have killed thousands of people, as well as forcing refugees into Sudan, dragging in Eritrea, and worsening hunger and suffering among Tigray’s more than 5 million people.
Reports of clashes between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s soldiers and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) were still coming out of the region, though communications remain largely cut and outside access blocked.
Abiy accuses the TPLF of treason, specifically for attacking an army base, while the Tigrayans say their ex-military comrade and partner in government wants to dominate their ethnic group for personal power. Both sides scoff at the other’s accusations.
Federal forces took Tigray’s highland capital Mekelle in hours on Saturday. TPLF leaders fled to the hills, saying they were resisting and taking prisoners.
Asked about ongoing fighting, TPLF head Debretsion Gebremichael said in a text: “Yes. On three directions. Two around Mekelle. One 50 km away.”
There was no immediate response from the government.