Ethiopia truce shatters

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP) — Fighting erupted between government forces and Tigrayan rebels in northern Ethiopia on Wednesday, shattering a five-month truce and dealing a blow to peace efforts.

Reports of fresh offensives were followed by Ethiopia’s air force announcing it had downed a plane carrying weapons for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the rebels have accused each other of undermining efforts to peacefully resolve the brutal 21-month war in Africa’s second most populous nation, and traded blame over who was responsible for returning to combat.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply shocked” by the renewed fighting and appealed for an “immediate cessation of hostilities and for the resumption of peace talks.”

The head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for a “de-escalation” and the resumption of “talks to seek a peaceful solution.”

The TPLF said government forces and their allies had launched a “large scale” offensive towards southern Tigray early Wednesday after a months-long lull in fighting.

But the government accused the TPLF of striking first and violating the ceasefire.

“Ignoring all of the peace alternatives presented by the government, the terrorist group TPLF armed group continued its recent provocations and launched an attack this morning at 5 a.m.” around southern Tigray, the Government Communication Service said in a statement.

The rival claims could not be independently verified as access to northern Ethiopia is restricted, but there were reports of fighting around southern Tigray in areas bordering the Amhara and Afar regions.

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