WORLD / AFRICA
Ethiopian FM says Eritrean troops have started withdrawing
Published: Apr 05, 2021 09:18 PM
Eritrean forces have started withdrawing from the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said, following mounting reports blaming the Eritreans for human rights abuses including rape, looting and killings of civilians.

Shelling from both sides tore open the walls of concrete homes and destroyed mud homes altogether Photo: VCG

Shelling from both sides tore open the walls of concrete homes and destroyed mud homes altogether Photo: VCG

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also described an upsurge of fighting in recent days, against "enemies" he said were mingling with the civilian population. The US, Germany, France and other G7 countries called on Friday for a swift, unconditional and verifiable withdrawal of the Eritrean soldiers, followed by a political process acceptable to all Ethiopians.

For months, Eritrea and Ethiopia denied the presence of Eritrean troops despite dozens of eyewitness accounts. On March 23, Ethiopia's Abiy acknowledged their presence. Eritrea has still not acknowledged its soldiers are in Ethiopia and denies responsibility for abuses there.

"The Eritrean troops who had crossed the border when provoked by the TPLF have now started to evacuate and the Ethiopian National Defense Force has taken over guarding the national border," the Ethiopian foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the Tigray People's Liberation Front, Ethiopia's main foes in the conflict.

Abiy said his forces had conducted major operations over the last three days, as it fights enemies on eight fronts in the west and north. He did not mention Tigray specifically but the region is located in the north. "When the junta shifted to a guerrilla force, mingled with the farmers, and started to move from place to place. We are not able to eliminate it within three months," he said in remarks in a video posted on his Facebook page. 

Ethiopia sent its troops to Tigray in November 2020 to fight against the TPLF, then the regional ruling party. In late November 2020, the TPLF withdrew from regional capital Mekelle and the Ethiopian government declared victory.
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