Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: Fighting escalates despite ceasefire

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  • Tigray crisis

image copyrightAFPimage captionAmhara, which neighbours Tigray, has mobilised its militias and special forces

Intense fighting is being reported in Ethiopia's Amhara state – the latest sign that the war that erupted in the Tigray region in November is spreading.

Federal forces as well as Amhara regional troops were involved in fighting Tigray rebels on three fronts, an Amhara official told the BBC.

This is despite the government saying a unilateral ceasefire declared last month had not been suspended.

All sides have accused each other of escalating the conflict.

The situation has intensified since the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels recaptured much of Tigray in a spectacular offensive against the national army in June.

Authorities around the country have been mobilising to join the fight, with rallies being held nationwide to encourage people to enlist.

Food supplies in Tigray – where an estimated 400,00 people are living in famine conditions – will run out on Friday, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.

All roads into Tigray from the Amhara region – which lies to the west and south of the war-torn northern state – remained closed, the WFP said.

The only aid route through the Afar region, which borders Tigray to the east, became inaccessible last week following an attack on a WFP convoy.

The state broadcaster says the army and its allies have "annihilated" a rebel division in battles over the last week in Afar. There is no independent confirmation of this claim.

Some WFP aid trucks in Afar have set off to try to get to Tigray, where the UN is calling for basic services like electricity to be restored.

The Tigray rebels have been calling for a negotiated truce, with conditions including the complete withdrawal of Eritrean troops who have been fighting alongside Ethiopian forces since November.

The TPLF was Tigray's governing party until it was ousted by the national army in November. It has been designated a terrorist organisation by the Ethiopian government. But the rebels say they are the legitimate regional government of Tigray.

It fell out with the prime minister over his political reforms, though the TPLF's capture of federal military bases in Tigray was the catalyst for the invasion.

More on the Tigray crisis:

  • NEWS: Africa Live page
  • ANALYSIS: Fleeing Ethiopia for fear of new ethnic conflict
  • QUICK GUIDE: Ethiopia's Tigray war – and how it erupted
  • ANALYSIS: The tragedy of Ethiopia's man-made famine
  • SURVIVOR: 'I lost my hand when a soldier tried to rape me'

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