On 5 November 2020, local media in Tigray reported that the Ethiopian central government had ordered airstrikes on the regional capital Mekelle; details regarding any possible casualties are currently unavailable. The deputy chief of Ethiopia’s military announced a major mobilization on state television on 5 November, following days of intense fighting between the Ethiopian military and the Tigray Popular Liberation Front (TPLF). Reports indicate federal troops have been activated across the country in preparation for deployment to Tigray. Military officials stated that they will not allow the conflict to spread beyond Tigray. The fighting began after suspected members of the TPLF allegedly attacked a military base on 4 November, which TPLF officials deny occurred. In response to the escalation, the president of Tigray, Debretsion Gebremichael – who is also the chairman of the TPLF – accused Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of launching an unprovoked invasion of the region. Also on 5 November, federal lawmakers approved a six-month state of emergency within the region. However, officials have not elaborated on specific measures, which could include a curfew or extended restrictions on communications and transportation.
Within Tigray, reports indicate that fighting between the military and members of the TPLF is concentrated in the western areas near the border with the Amhara region. Details regarding casualties are unavailable at this time, and communications out of the Tigray region are currently disrupted, as the federal government has shut down electricity, telephone and internet services within the region.
Analyst Comment: Tensions between the Tigray regional government and the Ethiopian central government have been high in recent months and each side has accused the other of planning attacks. Fighting within the region is likely to intensify through at least the short-term.