Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 15 – Ethiopia’s army said that a large group of fighters, allegedly members of the former ruling party of the conflict-torn Tigray region, had been “destroyed” attempting to enter the country from neighbouring Sudan.
Brigadier General Tesfaye Ayalew told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate on Friday that a force of some 320 had tried to enter Ethiopia via the town of Humera in northern Tigray.
“Some of them perished by thirst on the road, a portion was captured, and those who refused to surrender were destroyed by the army,” he said.
Tigray was plunged into conflict in November last year when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops to oust the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated the country’s politics for decades.
While he promised a brief military campaign, fighting continues with no end in sight, with evidence of massacres, brutal sexual violence and fears of humanitarian catastrophe.
Tens of thousands of refugees have fled into neighbouring Sudan, with whom Ethiopia is locked in multiple disputes over a contentious border zone, and the construction of a massive hydro-electric project on the Blue Nile.
Tesfaye, referring to the force as the “junta”, which is how the Ethiopian government refers to the TPLF, said it was led by “US based former Ethiopia defence forces officers who turned traitors and another group based in Khartoum.”
He alleged a military agreement “reveals the junta has been working secretly together with a few Sudanese leaders and army officers as well as Ethiopia’s enemies.”
He described the destruction of the force, details of which could not be independently confirmed by AFP, as “a big victory, for our army and our country.”
AFP has reached out to the Sudanese government, which was not immediately available for comment.
Khartoum has previously denied accusations it is helping forces in Tigray.