Tigrayan rebels have started handing over their heavy weapons as a key part of an agreement signed with Ethiopia's government late last year, a spokesman for the rebel authorities said.
"Tigray has handed over its heavy weapons as part of its commitment to implementing the #Pretoria agreement" which was signed on November 2 by Ethiopia's government and Tigrayan rebels, the spokesperson Getachew Reda tweeted.
In his tweet, Reda said that an African Union monitoring team confirmed the handover. He expressed hope it would "go a long way in expediting the full implementation of the agreement.''
Basic services and humanitarian aid restarted
The peace agreement includes the disarmament of rebel forces, regaining federal authority in Tigray, as well as connecting the cut-off region to infrastructure and communications. Recently, basic services, flights and humanitarian aid have begun to resume to more than 5 million people in the Tigray region.
Tigray forces especially called for the withdrawal of troops from neighboring Eritrea, which was not part of the agreement. Eritrea has fought alongside Ethiopian forces in the conflict. Witnesses say Eritrean fighters remain in some communities, the Associated Press reported.
Precise toll of the conflict unknown
The conflict erupted in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed the army to arrest Tigrayan leaders after they had challenged his authority for months. He accused them of attacking federal military bases.
The conflict has been described as "one of the deadliest in the world" by the International Crisis Group think tank and the NGO Amnesty International.
The precise toll is unknown, as fighting largely took place amid media restrictions in the region.
los/rs (AFP, AP)