UN chief: Ethiopia situation 'spiraling out of control'

AFP

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A man crosses near a destroyed truck on a road leading to the town of Abi Adi, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, on May 11, 2021.
AP Photo/Ben Curtis, FileA man crosses near a destroyed truck on a road leading to the town of Abi Adi, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, on May 11, 2021.

'Violence and destruction have reached alarming levels' in Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate end to fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray region Monday, saying the country was being torn apart by war.

"The situation in Ethiopia is spiraling out of control. Violence and destruction have reached alarming levels," Guterres said, speaking to reporters. "Hostilities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia must end now.

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Earlier on Monday, Ethiopia's government vowed to seize control of airports and other sites in Tigray, while at the same time reiterating a commitment to peace talks, as international alarm mounted over fighting in the war-torn region.

The African Union (AU) on Sunday called for an immediate and unconditional truce as combat intensified in northern Ethiopia, where pro-government forces and rebels from the Tigray region have been at war for nearly two years.

AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat also urged the rivals to "recommit to dialogue" after both sides accepted an invitation to peace talks that failed to materialize as violence spiraled.

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Tigrayan authorities said Sunday they were "ready to abide by an immediate cessation of hostilities" and called on the international community to press the government to come to the table.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government said in a statement Monday it was "committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict through the AU-led peace talks," without addressing the ceasefire call.

But it said it would also pursue "defensive measures" to protect Ethiopia's sovereignty and territorial integrity from internal and external threats.

"These measures are necessitated not only by the repeated attacks of the TPLF (Tigray People's Liberation Front) but also by its active collusion with these hostile foreign powers," it said, without identifying them.

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