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Ethnic standoff in Ethiopia's north threatens new phase of Tigray war

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Tigray Region

Tensions heighten between the Amharas and Tigrayans in Ethiopia's northern region.

This is being seen as another fresh wave of violence in this now volatile region, once a peaceful home to indigenes.

As Amharas have poured in, Tigrayan civilians have fled by the tens of thousands.

They went either west into Sudan or east or much deeper into the northen region of Tigray.

Today, many Amharas in western Tigray recall the era of TPLF rule with bitterness.

Mekonnen Nega says his people were afraid of even speaking the Amharic language in public, thus choosing to speak Tigrinya instead.

"The reform is good for those who have been oppressed. The TPLF tried to silence us. They have oppressed us, so Amharic could not be spoken and Amharic songs could not be sung. But now we have found freedom. We sleep well at night", the Member of a peacekeeping unit of the Amhara militia said.

Amharas and Tigrayans have long dueled over who owns the famously fertile lowland territory of Ethiopia's western Tigray. Both camps have said they are ready to die defending it.

"What worried me was the gunshots. We stayed in the church for two days. Then, when the military came in, we were happy as there was nothing better. So, my family and I stayed here. I haven't thought of leaving. When one government leaves and another comes, you should welcome it joyfully", said Tesfaye Weldegebriel, a Tigrayan resident of Humera.

Meanwhile, Amhara leaders who have been emboldened by a fresh influx of federal soldiers in western Tigray, are preparing for a showdown.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Amhara regional government said patience had run out. He said "As of today, we have opened an offensive".