ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s rebellious Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has announced that it has captured a number of areas in the region of Afar in an attempt to end threats it said are poised toward the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray by neighboring Eritrean army.
In a statement seen by Sudans Post, the TPLF said regional soldiers in Afar have been attacking areas along the border with Tigray region with the help of mercenaries from neighboring Eritrea.
“It is a matter of public record that, over the past few weeks, we had withdrawn our forces from Amhara and Afar regions so as to give peace a chance. Be that as it may, despite repeated claims by the federal government that the Ethiopian military has been ordered to halt its advances into Tigray, our forces have been on the receiving end of numerous provocative acts,” the TPLF statement issued yesterday reads in part.
“While countering various provocative acts on our various positions and, when necessary, taking corrective actions, we have shown great forbearance under provocation as we sought to address the all-encompassing siege imposed on the people of Tigray as well as facilitate the international community’s operations to resolve our people’s acute lack of humanitarian aid. Related to these developments, we have been fending off repeated provocative acts instigated, under the tutelage of the Eritrean government, by the leadership of the Afar region as well as Amhara expansionists. Aside from our commitment to peace, we have taken various measures that we thought would ease the impact of the man-made famine imposed on our people.
“In this regard, we have made repeated attempts to prevail upon the likes of Awol Arba (leader of the Afar Region), who are committed to the project of unraveling the historical ties between the peoples of Afar and Tigray, to stop their repeated incursions into Tigrayan territories and put an end to the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid delivery to the people of Tigray, including by sending eminent elders from the region.
“Nevertheless, having somehow believed the repeated lies incessantly broadcast on their own media outlets regarding the weakening of Tigray’s Army, and capitalizing on the direct support provided the Eritrean government, these forces have been crossing over into Tigrayan territories and launching repeated attacks inside Tigray.
“Especially since last week, in order to obstruct humanitarian operations and plunge Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, into a severe security crisis, the attacks started by Awol Arba’s special forces have intensified with the participation of a heavily armed entity organized under the guise of the Red Sea Afar Force with the direct leadership of the Eritrean government.
“Intensifying their attacks, especially since the morning of January 23, 2022, these forces have launched attacks on our positions to the east of Mekelle through Raya principally in order to undermine humanitarian operations that the authorities in Arat Killo claim to have agreed with the United Nations as well as create a nightmarish security situation in Mekelle.
“Tigray’s Army, despite maintaining the full-spectrum of its capabilities, had not taken any countermeasures beyond repelling repeated attacks on our positions less than 30 kilometer from Mekelle for over six weeks, mainly in order to give peace a chance and avoid the trap set up by our adversaries to create enduring animosity between the people of Tigray and Afar. Furthermore, it must be clear to those that send drones to Tigray that repeated attacks have no significance beyond taking the lives of non-combatants.
“Consequently, since yesterday morning (January 24), we have been compelled to take robust actions to neutralize the threat posed by the so-called Red Sea Afar Force, which has been organized by Awol Arba’s special police forces along with the Eritrean government in defiance of repeated peace overtures by the Government of Tigray as well as eminent elders in Afar.
“The measures we have taken are principally designed to neutralize Eritrean mercenaries in such a way that they will no longer pose a threat to the brotherly relations between the peoples of Afar and Tigray.
“We would also like to note that the main consideration behind our military tactics is to degrade our enemies’ military capabilities, remove them from Tigrayan territories, as well as from areas in close proximity to Tigray that could serve as a springboard for further attacks on our positions; accordingly, extreme care was taken to make sure that the conflict did not result in unnecessary bloodshed.
“Thus far, numerous Eritrean troops as well as Awol Arba’s special police forces have been captured. Tigray’s Army does not have a plan to remain in Afar for long nor does it wish to see the conflict deteriorate further; we would like to express our readiness to see the good relations between the two peoples continue as before.
“We call up on the people of Afar to dissuade forces in Afar hell bent on sowing discord and conflict between the two brotherly peoples. We would also like to take this opportunity to note that we have freed hundreds of innocent Tigrayans as well ‘moderate’ Afars, in the language of Awol Arba, that had been imprisoned following the systematic massacres of hundreds of Tigrayans in Abala and its environs.
“We call upon the international community to ramp up humanitarian assistance to the people of Tigray and Afar. The Government of Tigray and Tigray’s Army will extend the necessary cooperation to make these end a success.
“The historical relations between the peoples of Tigray and Afar will never sunder!”