By Ebi Kesiena
Fighting resumed in the northern Ethiopia region of Afar on Wednesday after a month-long lull, as the government appeared to be pressing a new offensive on rebels.
There were reports of an armed clash Tuesday in the town of Awra, in Afar’s Fenti zone, including the use of heavy weapons by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that killed multiple civilians, the humanitarian sources said.
The reports could not be independently verified, as officials in Afar could not be reached for comment.
TPLF Spokesman Getachew Reda, denied claims that the rebels had used heavy weapons against civilians, but confirmed that there had been fresh hostilities in Afar.
“Enemy forces are crumbling and in disarray in parts of Afar.
“We do not target civilians and the alleged artillery attack is yet another [fictitious] accusation to tarnish our forces’ reputation,” he said.
For nearly a week, humanitarian and rebel sources have been reporting signs of a government offensive that could potentially mark a new phase of the 11-month-old war in northern Ethiopia.
Officials have not explicitly confirmed that the offensive is underway, though Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said this week that the government had “a responsibility to protect its citizens in all parts of the country from any acts of terrorism”.