More than 20 civilians were killed in the fresh war that spread into the Afar regional state of Ethiopia and an estimated 54 thousand are displaced from their villages since the TPLF forces made an incursion across the borders of Afar region on Sunday.
An aid worker from the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) told The Reporter that the fighting that erupted on Sunday following the incursion made by the TPLF forces into the border Woredas of Afar continued through Wednesday and Thursday.
The TPLF forces made a sudden attack on Sunday and they broke into Afar Region through Yallo Woreda that is located adjacent to the town of Alamata in Tigray, he said.
Since then, they quickly took the town of Yallo and moved on to the town of Kalwaan in Guulina district just 37 kilometers away from Yallo on Monday and Tuesday, the source said.
On Wednesday, the TPLF forces pushed the fighting into the town of Awra, assuming its control by mid day.
They have since been fighting to control the next towns of Uwwa and Sifra.
“Many civilians have become casualties of the ongoing war in Afar and the situation has led to the displacement of a huge number of civilians,” he said.
According to him, the pastoralist community in the war zone fled in all directions with the majority heading to rural areas where there is no shelter and food for the displaced.
His organization, Afar Pastoralist Development Association, met the displaced community sheltered in a locally called Chefra on Wednesday and it is now trying to assist them but needs more support from the government and foreign donors.
“We tried to host them in a temporary shelter and talked to them about the incident. They said all houses were stripped of food and anything valuable by the advancing TPLF and they named 20 people killed in Yallo, including three elderly people who were unable to flee the attack and a mother and a child along with others who were caught in crossfire,” he told The Reporter.
In a short interview with local media, head of the peace and security bureau of the Afar regional state, Ibrahim Humede confirmed the attack by TPLF forces in three fronts, mainly on the town of Uwwa and Sifra towns on Wednesday.
According to him, the TPLF forces are pushing to control the Mille main road with an aim to control the corridor to Djibouti port.
“They are pushing very hard to control the Djibouti corridor which is the only sea outlet for the country. By doing so, they want to hold the government hostage and accept the preconditions they set for negotiation,” he said.
However, the national army along with the Afar special forces have ravaged them in a brutal attack made on Wednesday, he said.
But he admitted that the war since Sunday has caused many casualties and sufferings on the people of Afar. Nonetheless, he didn’t mention the number of casualties.
Mohammed Hussein, head of disaster prevention and food security bureau of the Afar regional state, however said that more than 54 thousand people have been displaced since the war broke out on Sunday.
According to him, the regional government does not have the capacity to provide humanitarian aid to the huge number of the needy and urged for assistance from the federal government and humanitarian partners.
The warring parties have issued their respective statements on Wednesday where both sides have claimed victory over the ongoing war in Afar regional state.
The statement issued by the TPLF claimed to have it has killed more than 1200 soldiers of the federal government and the special forces of the Oromia region currently backing the federal troops. It also said that over 100 soldiers surrendered and close 600 were wounded.
On the other side, the statement issued by the Federal Army on Wednesday claimed it fully destroyed TPLF’s battalion deployed in the Alaale Subla area of Afar region.