Ethiopian army discloses capture of cities in Tigray region

UN fears 200,000 people could flee Ethiopia conflict
By Agencies
Last updated Nov 21 2020

Ethiopia's army plans to surround the rebel-held capital of Tigray region with tanks and may use artillery on the city to try to end a almost three-week war, a military spokesman has said, urging civilians to save themselves.

The Ethiopian government has been blaming the TPLF, which was one of the four coalition fronts of the former ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF party), for masterminding various treasonous acts with an overarching goal of destabilizing the East African country.

The Tigray region has been facing a rebellion since earlier this month.

Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the government's task force on Tigray, said there was still time for the TPLF leadership to surrender.

ETHIOPIA'S military today threatened an all-out assault on Mekele, capital of the dissident Tigray region and seat of the local government it is seeking to dislodge, warning civilians to flee while they still can.

Adigrat lies 116 km north from Mekelle, the capital of Tigray Region, and 898 km north of the nation's capital Addis Ababa.

Claims by all sides are hard to verify because phone and internet communication has been down since fighting began on November 4.

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 Eritrea.

"Together with the rest of Ethiopia, we will work to ensure that all humanitarian needs will be addressed", Abiy added.

Since the early hours of November 4, the Ethiopian government has been undertaking military operations against the TPLF, which rules over Ethiopia's northernmost Tigray regional state.

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

TPLF leaders have complained of being sidelined by Abiy and blamed for the country's woes. The bitter feud with the central government led the TPLF to hold their own elections this year in defiance of a postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, the African Union bloc appointed former presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa as special envoys to seek a ceasefire and mediation talks.

The campaign has seen warplanes bombing Tigray and heavy fighting, while Amnesty International has documented a gruesome massacre in which "scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death" in the southwest town of Mai-Kadra.

Over the border with Sudan, the United Nations is planning for the possible arrival of 200,000 refugees.



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