Fighting erupts in Sitti, Somali region of Ethiopia amid tension in Tigray
NAIROBI, Kenya - The ethnic cum political skirmishes in Ethiopia has taken yet another dimension, following Tuesday's clashes at GarbaIssa town within the Somali region, something could further hinder peace-making processes within the Horn of Africa nation.
According to BBC Somali Service reports, fighting erupted in the town in the Sitti zone of the Somali region between pastoralists and militia from the Afar region. The battle comes a day after Somali Regional State said it will protect its people in the town on road linking Ethiopia to Djibouti.
The route is increasingly becoming under threat from several groups, including the elite Tigray Defense Forces [TDF], which is targeting the rail and road link to Djibouti. This is the route connecting Ethiopia and Djibouti, where Ethiopia uses it for imports and exports.
The government of Ethiopia is yet to comment about the latest clashes, which potentially deals a blow to Ethiopia's Prime Minister, whose troops are at war with TDF, following months of clashes in the Tigray region.
The TDF is also at loggerheads with Amhara regional forces and Somali regional forces, who are said to have traveled to neighboring towns in Tigray, ready to face TDF. Somali region forces just like Amhara regional troops are in support of the federal army.
Before the chaos on Tuesday, multiple sources had hinted to Garowe Online that scores of civilians were killed in GarbaIssa town Western Sitti zone of Somali Region of Ethiopia by heavy armed special police forces of Afar Regional State.
A minimum of hundreds of people had been killed another two thousand have been displaced. In the last three years, the people in the area faced similar period massacres. It's not clear why the Afar troops are attacking local Somali people in Ethiopia but ethnic-based clashes are now becoming common in Ethiopia.
This time, however, it is more devastating due to the TDF’s activities in the neighboring region of Afar, whereby the Prosperity Party-led government is fearing the local Somali civilians may support them. The Somali civilians are said to be concerned with ENDF's attacks against TDF.
Already, TDF has made it clear that it will pursue Amhara regional forces and the ENDF troops who are accused of perpetrating a massacre in Tigray. Authorities in Addis Ababa also issued statements signaling the end of the ceasefire in Tigray, where TDF has since recaptured many towns.
Earlier on Tuesday in Ethiopia, thousands of residents of Addis Ababa, patriots, veterans, and high-level government officials bid farewell to recruits drawn from all sub-cities of the capital who are joining the national army amid looming conflict Tigray.
This is yet an indication that ENDF, which had significantly lost several territories in Tigray, could be heading back to the secessionist region for more operations. The UN has persistently called for a ceasefire but Ethiopia and TDF are yet to negotiate.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, has struggled to reinstate peace in Ethiopia, despite early glimpses of his nationalism. He's accused of targeting Ethiopians living in Tigray and other opposition territories.