[ti:Ethiopian Forces Battle Tigrayans as Refugees Head to Sudan]
[00:00.04]Ethiopian government troops were reported to have captured an airport
[00:05.88]in northern Ethiopia from Tigrayan forces on Tuesday.
[00:12.20]State media said federal forces had captured the airport,
[00:17.32]near the border with Sudan and Eritrea,
[00:21.52]as well as a road leading from the town of Humera.
[00:26.84]Reuters news agency says information from the area was difficult
[00:32.36]to confirm because all communications are cut.
[00:37.28]The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF)
[00:40.72]governs Ethiopia's Tigray Region,
[00:44.16]which is home to 5 million people.
[00:47.44]The TPLF did not comment on the reports.
[00:52.12]Last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
[00:57.48]ordered airstrikes and sent troops into Tigray.
[01:02.24]He had earlier accused the TPLF
[01:05.72]of attacking a federal military base.
[01:09.64]Tigrayans say Abiy's government oppresses and discriminates against them.
[01:15.80]The African Union (AU) has called for peace talks and an end to the fighting.
[01:22.76]The Ethiopian government said talks were only possible
[01:27.24]if Tigrayan leaders were arrested and all weapons held by the Tirgayans destroyed.
[01:34.44]It also has called for the release of federal officials detained in the area.
[01:40.24]About 2,500 Ethiopians have fled the fighting into neighboring Sudan.
[01:47.72]The number of refugees is expected to increase, a Sudanese official noted.
[01:55.24]"The number is increasing," said Alsir Khaled.
[01:59.64]He is a refugee commission official in the Sudanese state of Kassala.
[02:06.32]"These people need shelter and medical treatment and food
[02:10.16]and there is a great shortage."
[02:12.68]The 44-year-old Abiy is Africa's youngest leader.
[02:17.48]He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for democratic reforms
[02:23.72]and for making peace with Eritrea, Ethiopia's longtime enemy.
[02:30.40]But the military operation against Tigray has worried diplomats.
[02:36.44]Some fear the country could fall into civil war
[02:40.24]given the deep hatred between the Tigrayans and the prime minister.
[02:45.12]A war could further damage the economy,
[02:49.00]which has already been badly hurt by the coronavirus crisis.
[02:54.56]Abiy is a former soldier who once fought alongside Tigrayans against Eritrea.
[03:02.24]He became prime minister in 2018.
[03:05.92]Abiy has opened the country's formerly oppressive government and political system.
[03:12.12]But that has led to a large increase in ethnic problems.
[03:17.16]Hundreds of Ethiopians have fled their homes
[03:20.48]for fear of ethnic violence over the past two years.
[03:25.24]In a possible escalation, Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael
[03:31.52]said the Eritrean government sent troops across the border.
[03:36.20]The Eritrean forces were said to have attacked
[03:39.92]Tigrayan soldiers in support of Ethiopian federal troops.
[03:46.08]But he gave no proof and Eritrea's Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed denied it.
[03:53.60]"We are not part of the conflict," he told Reuters.
[03:57.24]Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace deal two years ago.
[04:03.20]The Eritrean government remains hostile to the Tigrayan leadership
[04:08.92]for its part in a bloody 1998-2000 war.
[04:15.56]Reuters reported that aid workers and security sources have spoken about airstrikes
[04:22.40]on arms storage centers and other targets as well as heavy ground fighting.
[04:29.80]Abiy believes he can defeat the Tigrayan leadership militarily, diplomats told Reuters.
[04:37.52]TPLF forces number up to 250,000 men and is heavily armed, experts say.
[04:48.56]The TPLF has called the prime minister "merciless" because of the airstrikes.
[04:56.32]I'm Susan Shand. 更多听力请访问51VOA.COM