Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on television Friday (November 6th) that airstrikes would be launched on the dissident region of Tigray (north) as part of "large-scale policing" operations. driven by the army.

"There will be airstrikes. These airstrikes do not target civilians but targets belonging to this dangerous group," he said, referring to military installations of the ruling party in Tigray.

The leaders of the region, from the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), a party which, for almost thirty years and until the arrival of Abiy Ahmed in 2018, dominated the power structures in Ethiopia, challenge the federal government for several months.

Call of Antonio Guterres

Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2019, Abiy Ahmed announced on Wednesday the launch of military operations in Tigray, justified by attacks on military bases there, which the TPLF accuses the Addis Ababa government of having invented.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Thursday he was "deeply alarmed by the situation" in Tigray, stressing that "Ethiopia's stability is important for the entire Horn of Africa".

He called for an "immediate de-escalation of tensions" and a "peaceful resolution" of the differences between Addis Ababa and the Tigray authorities.

Abiy Ahmed had previously assured on Twitter that "the operations (...) underway in northern Ethiopia have clear, limited and achievable objectives: to restore the rule of law and constitutional order, and protect rights Ethiopians to live peacefully wherever they are in the country ".

No official information is available on current operations.

The cut-off of the Internet and telephone networks in Tigray make it extremely difficult to verify the situation there.

Intense fights

Diplomatic sources reported military activity on the main axes connecting Tigray to the Amhara border region, reporting intense fighting and artillery fire on the road to Humera, on the borders of Sudan and Eritrea.

Troop movements are also reported in the Afar region, also neighboring Tigray.

On Thursday, General Berhanu Jula, deputy chief of staff of the Ethiopian army, said Ethiopia had now "entered the war" against the authorities in Tigray.

The president of the region, Debretsion Gebremichael, had at the same time declared that Addis Ababa had started "a war, an invasion" against Tigray.

The recent military and verbal escalations now raise fears of a long and devastating conflict, likely to threaten the already fragile stability of the second most populous country on the continent with more than 100 million inhabitants.

With AFP

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