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2 Aug, 2023 16:14

Heavy fighting erupts in northern Ethiopia

Fano fighters have taken control of a major airport in the Amhara region, according to multiple reports
Heavy fighting erupts in northern Ethiopia

Clashes between Ethiopia’s military and the local Fano militia flared up in several areas of conflict-torn Amhara region, according to local media on Wednesday. The authorities have expressed concern about “significant human casualties.

More than a dozen people were injured when Fano fighters, also known as the Amhara militia, fought with Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) troops near the town of Debre Tabor on Tuesday and Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing a doctor at a local hospital and a police officer.

According to the unnamed doctor, the hospital has admitted three people with severe injuries and ten others with minor wounds from gunshots and heavy weapons.

Movement has been restricted as fighters have blocked all roads in the city of Gondar and elsewhere in Amhara where Fano fighters are battling ENDF forces, the Addis Standard reported.

On Tuesday, the militia reportedly took control of a major airport in the town of Lalibela, which is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, forcing flights to be canceled.

Yilkal Kefale, president of Amhara, told the media on Wednesday that the region’s economic activity continues to suffer as a result of violent encounters between state forces and militias, in addition to the deaths of civilians.

An anonymous diplomatic source told Reuters that the conflict started when the ENDF launched an operation to drive the paramilitary group out of Kobo and other towns.

Amhara has been dealing with heavy clashes and widespread protests since April, when the government ordered regional forces, including the Fano fighters, to integrate into the federal military or police.

The Amhara militia fought alongside federal troops and Eritrean armies in a two-year civil war in the neighboring Tigray region, which resulted in an estimated 100,200 battle-related deaths, according to a report by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

PRIO named the Tigray war, which ended with a peace deal in November of last year, the world’s deadliest conflict in 2022, having had the highest number of battle-related fatalities in state-based conflicts since 1994.

ENDF spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adane warned on Tuesday that action would be taken against armed groups “disturbing the country’s peace in the name of Fano.

However, Kefale has urged the fighters to lay down their arms and resolve the issues through dialogue.