HUMERA, Northern Ethiopia - Over 740 Ethiopian rebels who were based in Eritrea routed Eritrean government forces in clashes near the Sudanese town of Omhajer on Friday and crossed the border to Ethiopia in peace, sources reported on Sunday.
Tigray People's Democratic Movement (TPDM), which was under the radar of the Eritrean regime of President Isaias Afewerki for more than 12 years, and largely seen as a mercenary force in the eyes of change-seeking Eritreans, broke its chain loose and entered Sudan on Friday after destroying Eritrean troops who were rushed to the area to block the rebels' flight.
On Friday, residents of the Ethiopian town of Bereket, about 70km northwest of the Ethiopian border town of Humera, reported heavy fighting between the rebels and Eritrean government forces. A story carried by the Sudanese Arabic-language Farajat online also published photos of the scores of the Ethiopian rebels being checked by Sudanese security officers.
The TPDM forces wiped out Eritrean forces near Omhajer, and later at Seq al-Ketir before heading to Hamdait, all Sudanese towns. There were many casualties from both sides, Ethiopian TV reported on Sunday, without giving details. The rebels crossed the border to Ethiopia via Humera and Dima towns.
The heavily-armed Ethiopian rebels were welcomed with open arms by Ethiopian government forces near the border, the TV said.
The bulk of the TPDM force, including its leader, Molla Asgedom, has entered Ethiopia, but many small groups of TPDM were also either in the hands of Sudanese security or were still heading to Ethiopia in different directions.
TPDM, which was the largest rebel force in Eritrea, and its return to Ethiopia, which was expected to fight against and overthrow the regime in Addis, remains a huge blow to the Eritrean regime of President Isaias Afewerki, which was using the rebel group as its own shield against Eritrean uprising.
In fact, observers say let alone the tiny groups of Ethiopian rebels remaining in Eritrea, the Asmara regime itself is at risk of losing power as it has lost its most trusted force, (TPDM), which it had built as its own weapon against domestic unrest. Arrests are being made within the ranks of the army and security, according to the sources reaching Ethiomedia.com.
Both Addis and Asmara have been using proxy forces to divert their own respective crises, and according to analysts, any major conflict between the two governments due to the latest crisis in Eritrea remains remote as war would only lead to the subsequent downfall of each regime.
Source : Ethio Media