| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Ethiopia government says Tigray forces killed 100 youths in key town

On Monday, Ethiopia’s government accused rebel Tigrayan troops of killing 100 youngsters in the strategic town of Kombolcha, as the US expressed worry about Tigrayan advances a year into the conflict.

Tigrayan forces, commanded by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who have been fighting the government in a rising conflict that has destabilized Africa’s second most populous nation, made no immediate response.

Reuters was unable to confirm reports of fighting near the town on a key route some 380 kilometers (235 miles) from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. Journalists are excluded from the region, and communications are down.

On Sunday a TPLF spokesperson said its fighters had pushed south to take Kombolcha and its airport. If confirmed, it would be the closest the TPLF has got to the capital since pushing into Tigray’s neighboring region of Amhara in July.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed later that day called on all citizens to mobilize – threatening to exacerbate a conflict that has threatened to tear apart a country once seen as a stable Western ally in a volatile region.

The Government Communication Service said on Twitter, “The terrorist group TPLF has summarily executed more than 100 youth residents of Kombolcha in areas it has infiltrated.”

The statement did not include any further details and government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not answer phone calls seeking comment about whether those killed were combatants or civilians.


Earlier on Monday, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday he was alarmed by reports that Tigrayan forces had taken Kombolcha and Dessie, a nearby townthat the Tigrayan forces said they had seized on Saturday.

“Continued fighting prolongs the dire humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia. All parties must stop military operations and begin ceasefire negotiations without preconditions,” Blinken said.

Tens of thousands of ethnic Amharas have sought refuge from an escalation in fighting in Dessie. The government denied Dessie, which is north of Komblocha, was under Tigrayan control.

The capture of Kombolcha would be a strategic gain for the fighters against Ethiopia’s military and their allies, who are trying to dislodge the Tigrayans from the Amhara region.

War broke out a year ago between federal troops and the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly 30 years before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was appointed in 2018.

The conflict has killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 2.5 million people to flee their homes.

  • Reuters