Ethiopia tells Tigrayans to save themselves in push on rebel capital

Clay Curtis
November 22, 2020

"Defence forces have controlled Edaga Hamus city, which is on the road from Adigrat to Mekele", the Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check, a government agency, said Sunday. On November 4, security forces loyal to the TPLF attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) in Mekelle, killing several people.

The envoys are Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former president of Liberia; and Kgalema Motlanthe, former president of South Africa, who will travel to Ethiopia in "coming days".

The Ethiopian government on Saturday announced the capture of cities from Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters in different directions across the restive Tigray regional state.

Hundreds, possibly thousands of people have been killed, more than 30,000 refugees have fled into Sudan, and Tigrayan forces have fired rockets at Ethiopia's Amhara region and the neighbouring nation of Eritrea.

Ethiopia's government claimed advances in its battle against the dissident Tigray region on Saturday, while showing no signs of bowing to worldwide pressure for a halt to the conflict that has caused tens of thousands to flee and raised fears of a humanitarian disaster.

The government and military could not immediately be reached for comment, but have previously repeatedly denied targeting civilians, saying they strike only TPLF targets.

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The Prime Minister drew plaudits for opening up Ethiopia's closed economy and repressive political system after taking office, which included winning the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending a two-decade standoff with neighbouring Eritrea.

Abiy accuses the Tigrayan leaders of revolting against central authority and attacking federal troops in the town of Dansha. The Ethiopian government is now pushing its military further into the region to topple rebel forces following an eruption of violence on 4 November.

Aid workers say the conflict is creating a humanitarian crisis in Tigray, where many among the more than 5 million population were already displaced and relying on food aid even before the conflict. Destroyed buildings lined the main road in the town of Dansha, where the conflict broke out, the images showed.

Abiy also appointed an alternative interim government to run Tigray. Its new head hinted this week at potential forgiveness for TPLF rank-and-file, while the party itself is now outlawed.

The TPLF is extremely popular in its home region and dominated national politics from 1991 until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018.

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