Ethiopia: Amhara militia in new clashes with army

Fano

Ethiopia’s government on Aug. 4 declared a state of emergency in Amhara state over ongoing clashes between the federal army and local Amhara Fano militiamen. The Ethiopian army and the Fano militia were allies in the two-year war in the northern Tigray region. Their relationship later deteriorated, in part over recent efforts by federal authorities to disband regional paramilitary groups. (Jurist, Al Jazeera)

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  1. Deadly air-strike in Ethiopia’s Amhara region

    A presumed government air-strike on a busy town square in Ethiopia’s Amhara region has killed at least 26 people Aug. 13. The attack occurred in Finote Selam, a town in Amhara’s West Gojjam zone. The town is controlled by the Fano militia, but te big majority of those killed appear to have been civilians. (The Guardian)

  2. Territorial question in Amhara struggle

    Even during the war with Tigray, federal authorities and the Fano militia had eyed each other uneasily. Amhara’s regional forces were a key ally of the military against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), but the Fano had clashed regularly with federal forces in the months leading up to the war, with many Amhara fighters instinctively mistrusting Abiy, who is an Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.

    Amhara forces took advantage of the war to seize Western Tigray, a fertile territory bordering Sudan long claimed by the Amhara, and an area called Raya. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say they waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Western Tigray—characterized by arbitrary arrests, killings, and deportations—that uprooted hundreds of thousands of Tigrayan residents.

    In mid-2021, TPLF fighters recaptured most of their region and then pushed deep into Amhara, committing their own human rights abuses while also looting hospitals and schools. Amhara was mobilized for total war, with thousands of young men given rudimentary military training and sent to the front as militia. Many felt let down by the government and regular military, which had been unable to stop the TPLF advance.

    Then, in April 2022, during a truce with the TPLF, Abiy moved against the Fano, launching a sweeping crackdown that saw thousands arrested.

    After the signing of the Tigray peace deal, the sense of spiralling mistrust heightened. Even though Amhara’s vice president was part of the team that negotiated the peace, Amhara activists complained that their interests were not represented at the talks.

    The final text of the peace deal says the future of “contested areas” will be settled according to the constitution. Since it was agreed, Abiy has touted the possibility of holding a referendum to determine the status of Western Tigray and Raya.

    Even questioning the status of these territories is deeply unpopular with Amhara nationalists, who see their return to the TPLF as an uncrossable redline. (The New Humanitarian)

    Local authorities and Amhara forces in Western Tigray Zone in northern Ethiopia have continued an ethnic cleansing campaign against Tigrayans since the November 2022, truce agreement. (Human Rights Watch)

  3. Ethiopia rights commission: civilian killings in Amhara region

    The Ethiopia Human Rights Commission issued a report condemning the killing of numerous civilians by drone strikes and house to house searches in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The Oct. 30 report documented several incidents of extrajudicial killings, injuries, displacement and property destruction by the government security forces. (Jurist)