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Fighting Resumes Between Ethiopian Government and Militants

FILE – Fano fighters walk through a ransacked building in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, Dec. 7, 2021. Violence erupted March 1, 2024, between Ethiopian government forces and members of the militia.

Fighting broke out Friday between Ethiopian government forces and members of the Fano militia in Bahir Dar — the capital of the Amhara region — according to residents and the regional administration.

It’s the first bout of violence to erupt since the conflict’s early days last year.

In a statement Friday, the Amhara government said that military and security forces were to engage in a “joint operation and house-to-house surveillance around Bahir Dar to sweep out the extremist force that had infiltrated into the city.”

It added that the Fano militia retreated and wasn’t able to “resist the combined strength of the security forces.”

The Fano militia, without a formal structure, could not be contacted for comment. According to the Rift Valley Institute, a nonprofit research organization, there are various Fano groups in the region, each without formal leadership structures.

The rebel group used to work with the army against forces in Tigray, which experienced a two-year civil war ending in 2022, but their relationship became strained after Fano accused the government of leaving the Amhara region vulnerable to security threats. The government has denied the claim.

A peace deal was negotiated in November 2022 that stopped the civil war, but less than a year later, fighting broke out again in Amhara and has been increasing ever since.

Another reason for recent tensions is the Ethiopian government’s attempts to disband Fano insurgent groups after realizing they were gaining power and momentum.

The Rift Valley Institute says that after 2022, “efforts were made to disband and reintegrate the [Fano] groups into the community,” which was strongly opposed and “resulted in some armed confrontations with government security forces.”

The government-appointed human rights commission in Ethiopia says violent outbreaks have been increasing in recent months, with increased reports of house-to-house raids by government forces and drone attacks.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

Source: VOA

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