NAIROBI (Reuters) - Fighting between forces from Ethiopia’s rebellious northern region of Tigray and central government forces has erupted around the town of Kobo, residents and the spokesman for the Tigrayan forces said on Wednesday, ending a months-long ceasefire.
“I am hearing sound of heavy weapons starting from this morning,” said a farmer in the Kobo area who did not wish to be named. “Last week, I saw Amhara special forces and Fano (volunteer militia) heading to the front by bus.”
Two more residents confirmed they had heard heavy weapons since early morning and confirmed that in the past two days there had been major movement of troops ranging from local Fano militia, to Ethiopian army soldiers and special forces from the neighboring Amhara region to the area.
The fighting is a major blow to attempts to start peace talks between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controls Tigray.
It marks the end of a ceasefire observed since March, when both sides fought to a bloody stalemate and the government declared a humanitarian truce.
War erupted in Tigray in November 2020 and spilled into the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara a year ago.
The fighting in Africa’s second most populous nation has displaced millions of people, pushed parts of Tigray into famine and killed thousands of civilians.
Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu, military spokesman Colonel Getnet Adane and the prime minister’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum did not respond to requests for comment.
In June, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government formed a committee to negotiate with the TPLF and earlier this month the government said it wanted talks “with no preconditions”, while Tigray’s government has called for the restoration of services to civilians first.