News Alerts

10 Nov 2020 | 11:27 AM UTC

Ethiopia: Ethiopian military seizes Humera Airport amid Tigray Region conflict November 10 /update 5

Ethiopia News Alert

Ethiopian military seizes regional Humera Airport from TPLF forces amid Tigray Region conflict on November 10; avoid the region and monitor for updates

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/10/2020, 12:00 AM until 11/13/2020, 11:59 PM (Africa/Addis_Ababa). COUNTRY/REGION Tigray, Humera Airport

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Event

State-affiliated media reports suggest that Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) have seized the Humera Airport (HUE) from the control of Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) forces on Tuesday, November 10. Reports are still emerging regarding the alleged seizure, and it was not immediately confirmed whether any casualties resulted from the operation. 

Also on Tuesday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that "law enforcement operations in Tigray are proceeding as planned: operations will cease as soon as the criminal junta is disarmed, legitimate administration in the region restored, and fugitives apprehended & brought to justice - all of them rapidly coming within reach".  

A day prior on Monday, November 9, reports indicated that hundreds have been killed in the regional clashes that commenced on Wednesday, November 4. However, to date, there has been no confirmation of the exact casualty figure. 

Further military clashes are likely in the Tigray region in the medium term, with a realistic possibility of civilian harm in major flashpoint areas.

Context

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had ordered a military offensive in the Tigray Region on November 4, after accusing security forces aligned with the regional TPLF of attacking ENDF positions in the state. The operation follows two years of escalating tensions between the TPLF and the federal government in Addis Ababa, which they had previously dominated before the appointment of Abiy as prime minister in 2018, amid claims that the region was being marginalized by his sweeping reforms program. However, tensions reached a high point in September when the TPLF staged their own regional elections in the Tigray region in defiance of a decision by the government to suspend national polls due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The federal government subsequently declared the vote illegal and the upper house of Ethiopia's parliament voted to withhold budgetary subsidies to Tigray in early October. Amid the rising tensions, regional authorities also issued a statement on Tuesday, November 3, accusing Addis Ababa of planning a war in the Tigray region.

On Sunday, November 8, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reportedly removed Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, Chief of Defense Staff General Adam Mohammed, and Head of National Intelligence and Security Service Demelash Gebre-Michael from their positions, amid ongoing clashes in the Tigray Region of the country. Additionally, former Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew has been appointed as security advisor to the Prime Minister.

Previously, on Friday, November 6, the Abiy announced that the Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) had conducted airstrikes against alleged TPLF-aligned forces in the Tigray Region amid continued clashes in the state. Abiy stated that the airstrikes had targeted several long-range 'rocket launchers' in areas around the regional capital Mekele on Thursday, November 5, after they were seized by TPLF-aligned forces. The government claimed at the beginning of the offensive on November 4, that the TPLF had seized artillery systems and other equipment from ENDF bases around Mekele, but it is unclear whether the rocket systems targeted in Thursday's strikes had been appropriated in the initial alleged uprising.

Abiy did not specify what type of rocket systems had been destroyed in the airstrikes but stated that they had a range of around 300km (185 miles), similar to a Scud-type short-range ballistic missile. Several major cities, particularly in the Amhara region, are within this range of Mekele but it is unclear whether the alleged capture of the rocket systems provided the trigger for military intervention in the Tigray Region, nor whether the TPLF-aligned forces had the capability to operate them.

Advice

Those in the Tigray region are advised to monitor developments in their area of operations and liaise with appropriate consular authorities. Travelers should avoid the Tigray Region and northern areas of the Amhara region whilst hostilities continue and heed any directives issued by local authorities.

 

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