Ethiopia says Eritrean troops are pulling out of Tigray

KAMPALA, UGANDA (AP) — Ethiopian authorities said on Saturday that Eritrean troops have started withdrawing from Tigray, where they have been fighting on the side of Ethiopian forces in a war against the region’s fugitive leaders.

The Eritreans “have now started to evacuate” Tigray and Ethiopian forces have “taken over guarding the national border”, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

It’s not clear how many Eritrean troops have left, and some in Tigray assert that the Eritreans aren’t leaving at all. The region’s leaders have charged that Eritrean troops sometimes dressed in Ethiopian military uniforms.

Ethiopia’s government faces intense pressure to end the Tigray war, which started in November when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed troops there following an attack on federal military facilities. The region’s fugitive leaders do not recognise Abiy’s authority after a national election was postponed last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), in an analysis released on Friday, warned of the risk of a “protracted” war, citing an entrenched Tigrayan resistance combined with Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities’ determination to keep Tigray’s fugitive leaders from power.

Tigrayan refugees wait in line for food from Muslim Aid at Hamdeyat Transition Center near the Sudan-Ethiopia border, eastern Sudan. PHOTO: AP