Ethiopia has added two armed groups to its “terror list”, including the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, against which it launched a massive security operation late last year.
The Council of ministers passed a resolution on Saturday to designate the TPLF as a “terrorist” organization, together with the OLF-Shene, after several attacks in different parts of the country against civilians and public infrastructure in recent years.
The move, endorsed by a meeting of cabinet members chaired by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, could lead to further prosecution and the arrest of members and supporters of the group.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office stated that the two groups “operate as terrorists and their administrations or decision-makers have recognized or direct destructive activities in the nation”.
The decision would apply to organizations and individuals who work together, have connections, or are linked to the ideas and actions of the designated “terrorist” organization.
Local broadcaster FANA reported that the Council of Ministers listed the two groups for their activities aiming, training and funding of other violent elements in addition to engaging in attacks themselves.
They have launched attacks against civilians and public infrastructure in order to achieve political objectives.
Abiy accused the TPLF forces of attacking the Ethiopian military on November 3, killing soldiers in their sleep and looting military equipment, prompting the Ethiopian government to launch a wide-ranging law enforcement operation. The TPLF says the attack was a preemptive raid.
On November 28, Abiy declared the military confrontation over after the fall of the regional capital Mekelle to the federal army.
But Fighting has continued recently in central and southern Tigray, the conflict prevention group ICG, a Brussels-based think tank, said in a briefing released in early April.
The number of fighters loyal to the TPLF is likely swelling because of rising fury over atrocities, it said.
The violence followed years of tensions between the TPLF and the central government in a conflict that has driven hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes and caused widespread destruction.
The Ethiopian government is also involved in operations against the OLA, a military splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front, mainly in the Oromia region. The government claims that the OLA is killing civilians and is behind the destruction in the Oromia region and other parts of the country.
On Friday, the government accused the group lof killing 15 civilians. OLA took no responsibility for the alleged attack and accused the government of murdering them. However, in order for the cabinet proposal to take effect, it must be approved by the Ethiopian lawmakers.