Last Sunday near Shimelba area, where a Eritrean refugee camp is located, United Nations humanitarian team visiting the Tigray region was targeted by federal soldiers. A very serious incident of which the federal government and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali have tried to resolve with the United Nations without disclosing the news. Only following the investigation conducted by press agency Reuters on Tuesday government admit the incident. The first version supplied blamed the “rebels” of the Tigray People Liberation Front – TPLF. Following the testimony of eyewitnesses deemed reliable by Reuters itself, the government was forced to admit that the perpetrators of the senseless attack on a humanitarian convoy were federal army soldiers.
The version provided by the spokesman for the Ethiopian government task force for Tigray: Redwan Hussein it’s pure fantasy. The UN humanitarian convoy on its way to the Eritrean refugee camp reportedly broke through two checkpoints, refusing to be escorted by the military. At the third checkpoint they were ordered to stop for checks. Federal soldiers would fire when the UN convoy also attempted to break through the third military block. Hussein reported that the humanitarian team was hurrying to an unauthorized area for unknown reasons. “When they were about to break the third, they were shot and arrested,” he told national media.
A UN spokesperson in Nairobi contacted by Reuters did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Two diplomatic sources reported that the UN team met with Eritrean troops, although both Ethiopia and Eritrea have denied any forays across the border by President Isaias Afwerki’s military.
Local sources report to the editorial staff of Italian newspaper L’Indro that the assault on the convoy and the arrest of the UN officials was precisely motivated by having witnessed the presence of soldiers from the regular army of Eritrea. “The real reason for the aggression of UN officials was the attempt to hide the presence of Eritrean soldiers as the news would have offered valid arguments to the TPLF Tigrinya government. The fact that the United Nations is reluctant to confirm the news, even though it is already public domain, could be explained by the need for UN humanitarian agencies to have access to the population in need. “, Explains an African Union diplomat on coverage of anonymity and in a personal capacity.
The complicated security protocols adopted by the United Nations for humanitarian assistance in war zones make unreal the government version which states that not one but three checkpoints would have been breached by the UN convoy, without an escort and without private guards inside of vehicles. Some local sources say that the government would also deliberately prevent assistance to Eritrean refugees at the request of Eritrean dictator Afwerki as the majority of refugees would be made up of dissidents or deserters from compulsory military service for women and men lasting 20 years.
Further confirmation of the real reason for the attack on the UN convoy comes from Ethiopia’s main western ally: United States. American military observers have informed the Pentagon and the White House of the presence of at least 6,000 Eritrean soldiers still engaged in fierce clashes against the TPLF. They would also be responsible for numerous atrocities against the civilian population. The news reported by US military observers was confirmed by two senior Western diplomats stationed in Addis Ababa. The US State Department has said it will open an investigation based on the information received by predicting that if the presence of Eritrean soldiers in Tigray is confirmed it will require the governments of Addis Ababa and Asmara to withdraw their immediate withdrawal.
The investigation that is opening seems to be a purely formal and diplomatic act as both the Pentagon and the White House have authorized American officials to divulge the news in major Anglo-Saxon media including The Guardian. CNN report that Eritrea’s involvement will complicates the situation. “The war is far from over” warns CNN. Eritrean foreign minister, Osman Saleh Mohammed, furiously denied the accusation in a press release, stating that it is propaganda fuelled by the TPLF. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali (aka Menelik III) preferred not to comment on the news.
Federal Government ordered the Ethiopian media to continue to spread the thesis that the UN convoy broke through three checkpoints, suggesting that it was not a humanitarian mission. Government media in the Amharic language accuse some Western journalists to promote TPLF propaganda under large payments in order to damage the image of the country, presenting Prime Minister Abiy not as a fervent democrat but a ferocious dictator. At the moment, no names have been given of these alleged journalists mercenaries.
“I am sorry for the incident to UN humanitarian workers but I thank God that through this incident the truth we have been affirming for weeks has been discovered. The two fascist dictators Afwerki and Abiy have formed an alliance to annihilate the TPLF, decimate the Tigrinya population and divide up the territories of our homeland. A plan devised since December 2019. The Ethiopian army together with its Eritrean mercenaries is behaving with the same ferocity and cruelty as the Nazi troops in the Russian territories during the Barbarossa operation. As the Red Army destroyed the Nazis 76 years ago, we will annihilate the enemies of the Tigrinya people“, said a TPLF officer contacted for the occasion.
Local sources inform that the fighting is continuing and that the TPLF has recaptured various areas of Tigray. They also insinuate doubts about the possibility that Sudan has sent army units to support the TPLF but without uniforms and identity documents. Claims that are difficult to confirm at the moment.
The ongoing fighting, in which the feds, Amhara militias and Eritrean mercenaries would find themselves in serious trouble, are furiously denied by the Ethiopian government. “The TPLF has been wiped out. There are only a few remnants of the militia or special forces not yet controlled, thugs, outlaws“, spokesman Redwan said, adding that military operations in Tigray ended with the “liberation” of Mekelle and now normal police operations are in progress.
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