The political conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) party and its former coalition allies in the Ethiopian government, which started in 2019, ultimately resulted in clashes between regional and federal military forces in September 2020. The conflict eventually started to spill over into neighbouring Eritrea.
The use of heavy weapons and bombers has been detected at the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia’s northern Tigray Region, which has recently been clashing with the country’s federal government over political disagreements, the Somali Guardian has reported. According to the online media outlet, the exchange of fire has already forced some Eritreans living near the border to flee their homes and seek shelter in nearby mountain caves.
The report of heavy border clashes comes as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) continues its military standoff against Ethiopia’s federal forces. The TPLF claims that Eritrea is helping the federal government and alleges that Eritrean armoured units have already crossed the border into the Tigray region to start an offensive.
A representative of the TPLF earlier confirmed that the rebelling region’s forces conducted a missile strike on Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, on 14 November in response to its alleged deployment of 16 divisions across the two countries’ border. Two missiles struck Asmara’s airport, while one fell within the city limits. Eritrea’s government denies being involved in the armed dispute between the Tigray region and Addis Ababa.
The conflict between the two first started in 2019, when the TPLF withdrew from the governing political coalition, refusing to merge into a larger Prosperity Party. Following the escalation of tensions between the former political allies, the last straw was the Ethiopian government’s refusal to recognise the results of the September 2020 Tigray parliamentary elections, in which the TPLF secured a landslide victory. Subsequently, TPLF-supporting regional special forces purportedly attacked a military camp of the Ethiopian National Defence Force located in the Tigray region’s capital Mekelle. Ethiopia’s federal government then launched a counter-offensive with the stated goal of bringing the rebellious region back “under the rule of law”.