Forces from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region have mounted attacks in neighboring Afar region, marking an expansion of an eight-month-old conflict into a previously untouched area. Tigrayan fighters crossed into Afar on Saturday and Afar forces and allied militias were still fighting them on Monday. A spokesman for the Tigrayan forces, confirmed they had been fighting over the weekend in Afar. He said that Tigrayan forces had repelled militias from Ethiopia’s Oromiya region who had been sent to fight alongside the Afar regional forces. The spillover of the war into another part of Africa’s second most populous nation may pile more pressure on Abiy. Afar is strategically important because the road and railway linking the capital Addis Ababa to the sea port of Djibouti run through it. Djibouti is landlocked Ethiopia’s main access to the sea. Over the weekend, the head of the TPLF said that Tigrayan forces had released around 1,000 government soldiers captured during recent fighting.