September 18, 2015
Omhajer, Sudan – Heavy fighting between Ethiopian rebels deserting their base in Eritrea and Eritrean soldiers on Thursday left several fighters dead, a source affiliated to the ruling party in Ethiopia has reported. The fight broke out when Eritrean soldiers tried to disarm about 200 Ethiopian rebels who got stuck near the Sudanese town of Omhajer after their commander, Molla Asgedom, and over 700 fighters abandoned their base in Eritrea and surrendered to Ethiopia last week, Ethiopia First reported on Thursday.
The 200 rebels were expected to join their comrades but were late by a day. Many were killed from both sides, and the remaining TPDM rebels took a different route, the source said, without giving details.
Launched over 14 years ago to be used in a proxy war against Ethiopia, the Eritrea-backed TPDM grew to boasting thousands of combatants, but had never had any significant clash with Ethiopian forces.
Eritreans opposed to the ironclad rule of President Isaias Afewerki accuse TPDM of being an extended arm of Asmara, to the extent of being deployed in local operations to quash dissent.
“There was no meaning for us to stay in Eritrea after we witnessed significant development in Ethiopia,” earlier this week Molla told the media in Addis, where he admitted that he was a spy for the Addis Ababa regime for over a year.
The government is showcasing the former rebel commander as a hero who dented the pride of arch-foe Eritrea.
Eritrea backs groups trying to topple the regime in Addis, and likewise, the Addis Ababa regime also hosts about a dozen Eritrean groups vowing to end Afewerki’s rule.