The airport near the town of Humera in Ethiopia has been seized by the country’s military in the nearly week-old conflict in the Tigray region. The airport was captured as fighting continues, with reports of Ethiopian government forces capturing territory.
Al Jazeera reports that it is difficult to verify the situation on the ground due to the recent internet and telecommunications blackout imposed on Tigray by the Ethiopian government.
The African Union has called for an immediate ceasefire, saying in a statement, “The chairperson [Moussa Faki Mahamat] appeals for the immediate cessation of hostilities and calls on parties to respect human rights and ensure the protection of civilians,”
Al Jazeera reports that, meanwhile, Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, has accused Eritrea of sending soldiers over the border to attack local forces. While this would be a major escalation of an already volatile situation, Gebremichael has not provided any evidence. Humera is located near Ethiopia’s borders with Sudan and Eritrea. Sudan has reportedly sent more than 6000 troops to the border. Gebremichael claimed, “Since yesterday, the army of [Eritrean leader] Isaias [Afwerki] have crossed the country’s boundary and invaded. They were attacking via Humera using heavy arms.”
Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed, however said, “This is an internal conflict, we are not part of the conflict.”
There are fears that Ethiopia is heading toward a civil war. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who in 2019 won a Nobel Peace Prize for democratic reforms and for making peace with Eritrea, had last week launched a campaign against forces loyal to ethnic Tigrayan leaders in the country’s northern region. He had accused them of attacking a military base.
Tigray region leaders say the Abiy’s federal government has launched more than 10 air raids against them in recent days. Hundreds are believed to have been killed.
Umm Muhammed Umar