ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia claimed victory in their conflict with the Restive Region of Tigray on Saturday, following a daylong series of artillery strikes against the regional capital, a city of one million people.
With communications stopped, there was no way to independently confirm the government’s claim, and Tigre’s leadership vowed to resist the government’s attack earlier in the day.
Two days after Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abi Ahmed ordered the shelling of the city Mekel to begin the third and final phase of an operation aimed at ousting the northern state’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberal Front. Major power in national government.
On Saturday evening, Ethiopia’s state broadcaster reported that Mekele was now “under the control” of the central government and federal forces in the city “are searching for all suspicious areas where the junta may hide,” referring to TPLF
“I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased military operations in the Tigray region,” Mr. Abi Posted on twitter on saturday night. “Our focus will now be on rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian aid, while the federal police capture the TPLF faction.”
Earlier on Saturday, the leadership of the TPLF, whose decades-long political and economic dominance has waned significantly, when Mr. Abi took office in 2018, vowed not to surrender and to protest the military from local citizens called upon.
“We are fighting with respect to our right to self-determination and self-government,” TPLF leader, Debretian Gabriemikal, said in a text message Saturday, confirming heavy shelling in the city throughout the day.
“Abi will not be able to arrest TPLF members,” he said. “They will die with their faith. To accept defeat? You have to understand that as long as they are on our land, we will keep on fighting. “
Even if the government’s control over the capital is verified, analysts warn that its military may still face a long and brutal guerrilla war with the TPLF, which has a large and heavily armed militia.
Before Saturday’s shelling, many residents of Makelele had started fleeing into rural areas, fearing that they might be caught in a shootout in a central government fight with the local government,
There were no immediate reports of any casualties or specific targets from Saturday’s attack. With access to the region, there have been some reliable reports about the impact of the fighting since Mr. Abi launched a military invasion a few weeks ago.
About 40,000 refugees from the region have entered neighboring Sudan, According to the United Nations, And hundreds of people have been reported killed in battle.
Central government military operation in Tigray region Started on 4 November, Mr. Abi accused the TPLF of attacking a government defense post and stealing artillery and military equipment.
The TPLF has stated that its troops left the ex-servicemen to occupy strategic military assets after the Confederate army troops moved north during the conflict days.
Both sides have been engaged in a long-running feud, which intensified at Tigray in September. Parliamentary elections heldEven though he was postponed by the central government due to an epidemic of coronovirus. In October, Ethiopian lawmakers cut off federal funds to the region as punishment.
International aid groups and the United Nations are disappointed at the lack of access to the region to provide aid.
Catherine Sozzi, the United Nations resident coordinator in Ethiopia, said evidence from aid personnel returning in recent days showed that the human condition “still remains critical.”
“No cash, no fuel, no telecoms” Ms Suzy said adding health care, access to food and clean water also remained an issue for people in Tigray.
The central government said on Thursday that it would start extending its aid to areas under federal control. “Reinforced supplies are currently in transport in federally-controlled areas,” said Prime Minister’s spokesman Bileen Ceum.
The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, Mr. Abi, who promised to transform his country by ending decades of repression and open up the economy, has so far resisted calls for international arbitration in the conflict.
The 55-nation African Union appointed former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, And Kalima Motalthe of South Africa to mediate the crisis.
The three messengers held talks with Mr. Abi on Friday during which he refused to return.
Mr Abi expressed “the imperative responsibility of enforcing the rule of law by the federal government across the region and the country,” his office said in a statement released after talks in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. “Failure to do so will nurture a culture of insecurity with devastating costs to the country’s survival.”
The TPLF leadership has said that the forces of neighboring Eritrea have joined with the central government in attacking Meckley.
The broadcaster of the Tigray state quoted the Eritrean president as saying, “Today the army of Abi Ahmad and Isis Afwerki bombed the densely populated town center and infrastructure with heavy artillery.” “They have also carried out airstrikes at several sites in Mekele.”
Mr. Abia’s government has denied that Eritrean soldiers played any role in the conflict.
There is growing international concern that the unrest may spread to other restrained areas in the nation of more than 110 million people in Ethiopia. In neighboring Somalia, Ethiopia’s peacekeepers belonging to the Tigray ethnic group are confined to their barracks and unarmed.
In Washington, the State Department’s top Africa policy official condemned the violence in the Tigray region.
Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Tibor P. “Fighting and shelling are a very serious concern in the Meckley area,” Negi Jr. said in a Twitter message on Saturday. “We urge an immediate end to the struggle and the restoration of peace in Tagre. Citizens should be protected and humanitarian access provided to help the needy. “
Eric Schmidt contributed reporting from Washington.