NAIROBI, Kenya ( Associated Press) – Tigre rebel forces fighting Ethiopia’s federal army say they will release 4,000 prisoners of war as part of an amnesty.
The Tigre People’s Liberation Front release announced On Friday, a war of words erupted on Twitter between Ethiopian and Tigre region officials over provocations and preparations for another round of full-scale warfare.
According to the tweet, Tigre forces decided to release 4,208 prisoners of war with amnesty, of whom 401 are women.
The regional ruling party quoted Birhane Kebede, the coordinator of the prisoners’ center in the region, as saying, “Most of them were captured (in the fighting) outside the Tigre region, and others joined the fight by forced recruitment.” Birhane said women with disabilities, diseases and giving birth in custody are given priority for release.
The decision to release the prisoners came after weeks of talks between military commanders of the two sides, according to a foreign diplomat in Addis Ababa, who said talks at the political level had not yet taken place.
This is the second time that Tigre forces have announced the release of prisoners of war. In July 2021 he announced the release of 1,000 Confederate Army soldiers after parading them to the public.
“These releases are probably a sign of goodwill and an acute shortage of food in Tigre,” William Davison, senior analyst at Ethiopia’s International Crisis Group, told the Associated Press.
“Now that aid flows to the (Tigre) region have increased in the midst of a prolonged peace in large-scale fighting, the federal government must restore vital services such as banking and peace by starting talks on a permanent ceasefire with the leaders of the Tigre.” The process should go ahead.” They said.
Ethiopia’s deadly civil war, which began in November 2020 after federal authorities accused Tigre forces of attacking a military base in the region, is believed to have caused thousands of deaths.
International aid groups say federal forces have specifically sealed off the area since July 2021, making the delivery of food and other essential aid very difficult. In recent months, Ethiopians have relaxed some restrictions to allow better flow of aid to the Tigre region.
This month has seen a period of rhetoric between the warring parties. Tigre’s spokesman, Getachev Reda, said on Twitter on 12 May that there have been several incidents of indiscriminate shelling of civilians in parts of Tigre by Eritrean forces.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, on the other hand, alleged that Tigre leaders had issued “a call for war” and urged the international community to condemn it.