MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Ethiopia pulled back thousands of troops from Somalia and immediately sent them to reinforce front lines in the north of the country as Tigray rebels continue pressing further into Amhara and Afar regions amid international alarm at the widening of Tigray conflict to other parts of the Africa’s second most populous nation.
Over the past weeks, Tigray forces captured a number of towns in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, in what the leadership of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – the party that dominated Ethiopia’s government for decades before Abiy Ahmed rose to power in 2018 – said was aimed at removing a blockade imposed on the northern region and allowing humanitarian access to millions in need.
- Two Ethiopian rival peacekeeping forces clash in Somalia
- Tigray conflict divides Ethiopia’s troops in Somalia along ethnic lines
- Ethiopia begins troop withdrawal from Somalia
A long queue of buses and trucks carrying troops have been seen on a highway linking Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to the city of Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara region.
It has not been immediately clear whether the troops were among current active members of the African Union peacekeepers operating in southern Somalia, but the country also hosts thousands of non-AMISOM Ethiopian military personnel manning bases in Bay, Bakol, Gedo and Hiran regions.
The comes comes weeks after two rival groups of Ethiopian peacekeepers clashed at a military base in the town of Bardere in south Somalia’s Gedo region, where at least two soldiers died and several others wounded. Read More
Ethiopia’s government urged citizens to join the fight against resurgent Tigrayan forces now pushing beyond their own region in a nine-month-old war that has killed thousands of people and forced tens of thousands to flee their neighborhoods.
The call to arms came after Tigray forces announced that they had formed a military alliance with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) “based on mutual understanding that Abiy’s dictatorship must be removed”.
In a similar fashion, Ethiopia withdrew thousands of troops from Somalia days after the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a large-scale offensive into Tigray region, in response to an attack on army camp in the north of the country. Large convoys of troops were seen leaving towns in Bay, Bakol, Hiran and Gedo regions and crossing the border into Ethiopia soon after Tigray conflict began in November of last year. Read More
Ethiopia and AMISOM have not yet discussed whether the troops who vacated their bases in southern Somalia were active members of the African Union peacekeepers who are set to fight Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group Al-Shabaab, whose fighters control large swathes of territory in the Horn of Africa country.
The conflict in Tigray has divided Ethiopian peacekeepers serving the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia along ethnic lines and at times triggered clashes between soldiers of Tigrayan and Amhara ethnicity manning bases in the country. Dozens of Tigrayan peacekeepers have since been disarmed and arrested, with some returned home. Read More
Ethiopia integrated its troops deployed in Somalia into the AMISOM multinational force in November 2013 and contributes thousands of troops to the African Union mission while thousands more of its non-AMISOM military personnel also operate mainly inside towns beseiged by Al-Shabaab militants in the regions of Bay, Bakol, Hiran and Gedo.
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