Panafrican News Agency

Ethiopian gov't says Federal forces making progress in Tigray Regional fighting

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The Ethiopian government says the National Defence Force has been making progress in its military action against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in the restive Tigray Regional State.

The Ethiopian National Defence Force Chief of Staff, General Birhanu Jula, told journalists in Addis Ababa on Wednesday that the army, which started its operation in the western front, took control of Dansha, Baeker, Maikadar "within a short time" and entered Kafta Humera.

There is no independent confirmation of the claims.

The National Defence Force started marching on the capital of the Tigray region, Mekelle, on Tuesday after a deadline for rebel forces to surrender passed.

The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted General Birhanu as saying the army has taken control of Sheraro via Adi Goshu and Adi Nibreid as well as Gozomon.

"And after a major operation conducted by the army on Tuesday, it captured Shirie as well," the news agency said.

General Birhanu said on the southern front, the army took control of Waja and Alamata while it took Chercher and Mehoni on the eastern front.

He added that there are places in Rayya Azebo that remain to be freed.

General Birhanu said the people of Tigray have been warmly welcoming the army wherever they reached, adding that people have been surrendering the weapons they were given by the TPLF to attack the national defence force.

He also said the people are playing a crucial role in locating hidden weapons of the TPLF, who are destroying bridges, roads and other infrastructure.

The TPLF at the weekend fired rockets at the Eritrean capital, Asmara, after accusing the neighbouring country of assisting the Ethiopian Army.

Tigray is located in northern Ethiopia and the clashes broke out earlier this month following the reported takeover of an army base, prompting the Prime Minister to launch a military offensive. 

The Addis Ababa government says the Federal intervention is a mechanism of protecting and defending the constitutional order.

Some 30,000 Ethiopians have been forced to flee the fighting with the UN saying that some 4,000 people a day are streaming into Sudan.

According to UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, families and children are sleeping in the open. 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is also warning that a full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding as thousands of refugees flee ongoing fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region each day to seek safety in eastern Sudan – an influx unseen over the last two decades in this part of the country.

Violence erupted at the start of November in Tigray involving federal and local forces, following the reported takeover of an army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, which prompted the prime minister to order a military offensive. 

Prior to the Tigray escalation, dozens of people in western Oromia region were killed and injured in attacks.

The Ethiopian Federal Government has also declared a six-month state of emergency in the Tigray Region, whose government is controlled by TPLF.

The TPLF has accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, of forcing them out of the government and security posts since taking office in 2018.

-0- PANA MA 19Nov2020