Ethiopia’s government has laid down conditions for peace talks with Tigray, even as Eritrea’s government declined allegations that it had sent its troops to fight alongside Ethiopia’s federal army in the restive region.
Redwan Hussein, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs and spokesperson for the newly established State of Emergency task force for the Tigray conflict, said that talks are only possible with Tigray’s local government if military hardware is destroyed, federal officials are released from custody and leaders of the region are arrested.
He also added that federal troops had been forced to retreat over the border to neighboring Eritrea before regrouping and returning to fight Tigray local forces.
Meanwhile, Eritrea’s government has denied accusations made by the leader of Ethiopia’s Tigray region that its troops had crossed the volatile border in support of the federal government military offensive against the region.
“This is an internal conflict. We are not part of the conflict,” said Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed.
In a statement on local TV, Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael claimed that Eritrea had joined the conflict in the region though he did not provide evidence on the same.
“Since yesterday, the army of (Eritrean leader) Isaias (Afwerki) have crossed the country’s boundary and invaded,” he said. “They were attacking via Humera using heavy arms.”
Moreover, Ethiopian state media has announced that federal forces have captured Humera airport, near the borders with Sudan and Eritrea, along with a road leading from the town. The Ethiopian Press Agency posted photos that it said showed federal soldiers, backed by forces from the neighboring Amhara region, at the airport.
However, Humera residents were going about their lives normally, according to a communications office of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs the state of more than 5 million people.
So far, 2500 people have fled to Sudan to escape the intensifying fight which has claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and thousands of troops on both sides.