The spillover of the war into another part of Africa’s second most populous nation may pile more pressure on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
He won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize but is facing international criticism over the conflict amid reports of atrocities committed by federal forces and troops from neighbouring Eritrea who have fought alongside them. His government says it is investigating such reports.
The TPLF dominated Ethiopia for decades as the strongest force in a multi-ethnic coalition, until Abiy took power two years ago.
They say they were forced into conflict after attempts to mediate with Abiy and ensure their region’s autonomy in line with the constitution broke down.
‘A terrorist organisation’
The government designated the TPLF “a terrorist organisation” in May.
TPLF leaders have said they will keep fighting until they regain control of disputed territory in the south and west of Tigray, which was seized during the fighting by the government’s allies from Amhara region.
On Sunday, Abiy said the Ethiopian military was prepared to defeat Tigrayan forces.
Forces from Amhara region, which has a border dispute with Tigray, have been supporting the military since the beginning of the conflict.
On Friday, three other regions said they were sending forces to support the army.
On Sunday, the Somali region said it was also sending troops, as did Benishangul-Gumuz region on Monday.
Gambella and Harari regions have also said they were sending troops, state-run Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Afar is strategically important because the road and railway linking the capital, Addis Ababa, to the seaport of Djibouti run through it.
Djibouti is landlocked Ethiopia’s main access to the sea.
Over the weekend, the head of the TPLF said that Tigrayan forces had released about 1,000 government soldiers captured during recent fighting.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday it had begun visiting soldiers being detained in Tigray.
The United Nations’ World Food Programme on Monday said its convoy of nine trucks was attacked on Sunday morning while moving aid into Tigray.
The convoy was attacked 115km (70 miles) from the town of Semera in Afar, the agency said.
WFP has suspended the movement of all convoys from Semera until security can be assured.
Could fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray trigger a wider conflict? Inside Story
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES