‘My Blood Is Boiling’: War Fever Surges in Ethiopia as Its Civil War Spreads


Among them was Alem Bilatte, 54, a retired army officer, who called the Tigray forces Ethiopia’s “enemy” and promised to train new recruits or go to the battlefront himself. “My blood is boiling,” he said as he registered in the capital.

Bekelech Ayalew, 47, a former infantry nurse draped with an Ethiopian flag, said she was ready to treat soldiers on the front lines. “Sacrificing my blood and dying for Ethiopia is a privilege,” she said.

As the recruitment drive has gotten underway, rebel forces have continued to advance in western Tigray, an area that ethnic Amharas historically claim as their own and took over in the early stages of the conflict. Heavy fighting, including artillery fire, has been reported in the Amhara, Oromia and Afar regions, according to an internal United Nations security document seen by The New York Times.

The dynamics of the war are also shifting as the fighting escalates.

This month the Oromo Liberation Army, designated a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government, declared an alliance with the Tigrayan forces, raising the prospect of other splinter groups or regional governments becoming involved in the fighting.

Mustafa Omer, the president of the eastern Somali region, which has sent hundreds of soldiers to join the war on the government side, said he would never negotiate with the T.P.L.F., which he said had tortured and killed his brother and made other family members disappear in its authoritarian, nearly three-decade time in power.

“They caused a lot of harm, and they are looking to bring back the same political designs if they win,” Mr. Omer said in a phone interview. “They are a danger to the country.”



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