Tigray rebels accuse Ethiopia of attacking after peace deal

Tigray rebels accuse Ethiopia of attacking after peace deal


Tigrayan authorities on Friday accused the Ethiopian government of carrying out a drone strike on civilians less than 48 hours after the warring factions signed an agreement to end their bloody conflict.

The landmark deal sealed in South Africa was hailed internationally as an important step in ending a war that began exactly two years ago on Friday.

A spokesman for the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) claimed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government launched attacks on civilians in the Tigray town of Maychew on Thursday.

“According to Lemlem Karl Hospital sources, a drone from #Ethiopia attacked civilians,” Kindeya Gebrehiwot said on Twitter.

He said there was artillery shelling “in the same town where civilians were killed and wounded. This comes after the signing of the peace agreement in #Pretoria”.

AFP has been unable to independently verify the claims.

Access to northern Ethiopia is severely restricted and Tigray has been under a communications lockdown for more than a year.

There was no immediate response from Ethiopian government officials or the African Union (AU) to AFP’s inquiries.

But Abiy’s national security adviser Redwan Hussein, who led the government’s negotiating team, said the prime minister chaired a briefing for ministers, regional leaders and party officials on Friday to discuss the deal and “focus on the dividends of peace”.

The Ethiopian government “remains committed to the peace agreement,” he said on Twitter.

The deal, signed on Wednesday, said the two sides agreed to “permanently silence the guns” and implement a “program to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate TPLF combatants.”

But observers say key details and a clear roadmap that would help maintain momentum are missing, and suspicions run deep.

– ‘Very difficult’ –

Even as AU-led negotiations began in Pretoria last week, fierce fighting between TPLF fighters and federal forces, backed by soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, was ongoing in Tigray.

The northernmost region of Ethiopia faces a severe humanitarian crisis due to lack of food and medicines and limited access to basic services.

Observers and diplomats have warned of the difficult road ahead, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying on Friday that getting a lasting ceasefire “will be very difficult”.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers meeting in the German city of Munster, Borrell conceded that the deal was “good news” but warned: “Making peace is much more difficult than waging war.”

“The world is looking at Ukraine and blaming Russia. But Ethiopia is easily the worst humanitarian crisis… and war in the last two years,” Borrell said.

Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, dispatched troops to Tigray on November 4, 2020 to overthrow the TPLF, the region’s ruling party, in response to attacks on federal army camps, he said.

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