Written by Staff Writer
There were clashes overnight between Ethiopia’s military and armed militia in the war-torn region of Tigray, which borders Eritrea, according to an Ethiopian statement.
The statement said that the militia members responded by firing at the Ethiopian military and wounding four Ethiopian soldiers in the area of the regional capital of Asebo.
The regional military spokesperson, Zedion Gebremedhin, confirmed that the attacks took place late Friday night, but could not provide a casualty figure.
Asebo lies in the Tigray region, which is located between Eritrea and the Somali province of Ethiopia. The Tigray region has been rocked by political unrest since the start of the year.
Despite the crisis in the region, Ethiopia’s military has not dispersed the armed rebels because it considers them “genuine patriots fighting for a just cause.”
Tensions have escalated in the area since late 2017 when Ethiopia defeated the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is the opposition group that controls a majority of seats in the government in Addis Ababa, in local elections.
The TPLF was an important sponsor of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front which was responsible for overthrowing Ethiopia’s ruling regime in 1991. In August 2017, a standoff erupted between armed opposition groups and Tigrayan government supporters after unknown militants stopped a bus in Amhara province in western Ethiopia and killed the driver.
The Tigrayan administration alleged that the armed group was part of a campaign by the neighboring country, Eritrea, to destabilize and oust the government in Addis Ababa.
Eritrea has been at war with Ethiopia since 1998, when a failed counter-insurgency operation in the Red Sea port of Assab led to the division of the country along ethnicity lines and Eritrea gained independence in April 2001.
Tigray, along with Eritrea, has launched regular attacks in the border regions of Tigray, Eritrea and Somali. Both countries have said that they are ready to fight each other in a full-fledged war if war breaks out.