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The 1967 Attack By Ethiopia And Consequences

Although the establishment of the regions led to further differences within the front and became the main reason for its weakness, the spread of the regions throughout the country on other hand enabled to influence many people and new recruits started to join the front. As a result, threatened by the new developments in the front, the Ethiopian government decided to halt the movements of the liberation front.

Emperor Haileselassie of Ethiopia received material and skilled manpower support from Israel and America to strengthen the country’s military against the Eritrean Liberation Front. In addition to the aid from abroad, the Emperor also formed a special unit called the “commandos”, with the special task of destroying the Eritrean Liberation front. This unit formed in the 1965 was composed of Eritrean Christians and the main aim of the Emperor in forming such a unit was to widen the religious gap among the Eritrean people and to destroy the Eritrean spirit of unity and freedom. Meanwhile, with the establishment of the fifth region, many Christians from around Asmara and Addis Ababa were joining the liberation front, which became a major threat to the colonizers. Previously, the liberation front was viewed as a Moslem movement by the colonizers and the support of Christians proved that the entire people of the country were against the colonizers.

To destroy this movement, the Emperor resorted to killing civilian Moslems and destroyed their villages so that the Christians will think of them as they were against the Moslem society of the country and would lead to further religious differences between the society and will enable them secure their power. Until this moment, there was only one brigade of Ethiopian troops in the country but later they brought the two brigades stationed in Gonder and Tigray to the country.

In the year 1976, Ethiopia invaded majority of the towns and villages of the country through the newly established unit of “commandos” and the military and they destroyed many villages brutally. To mention some of the villages destroyed at that time; there were 62 villages burned around the town of Adi’brihim and 300 people were killed.  Another 33 villages of the Saho ethnic group were burned around Hazemo, where 260 civilians were killed.  In the former Senhit, Semhar, Sahel provinces around 30 villages were burned and their inhabitants killed brutally. There was no record of the exact number of people killed, villages burned and properties looted and livestock stolen since those atrocities were committed in all parts of the country. Consequently, around 70 thousand Eritreans who lost their homes and properties migrated to Sudan.

While the colonizers committed all the aforementioned atrocities, the leaders of the regions who were deep in power rivalry did not do anything to help the people. The reaction of some of the leaders was to avenge their own people simply by assuming that they might have collaborated with the colonizers.  Few fighters concerned by the atrocities committed on the civilians and the reactions of the leaders, began asking questions that raise the awareness of the public and the fighters. This lead to the initiatives taken for introducing some changes in the leadership of the Liberation Front from both inside and outside the country.

 

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