Sun 29 November 2020:
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced the ending of military operations in the northern Tigray region after the army said it was in “full control” of the regional capital, Mekelle.
“I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military operations in the Tigray region,” Abiy said on Twitter on Saturday.
“Our focus now will be on rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian assistance while Federal Police apprehend the TPLF clique,” he said, referring to the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), whose forces have been fighting federal troops for more than three weeks.
Hours later, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael said the heavily armed Tigrayan forces would keep fighting the government.
“Their brutality can only add (to) our resolve to fight these invaders to the last,” he told the Reuters news agency in a text message. Asked if that meant his forces will continue fighting, he replied: “Certainly. This is about defending our right to self determination.”
Mekelle under command of the National Defense Forces pic.twitter.com/rj8GbK3ii8
— Abiy Ahmed Ali 🇪🇹 (@AbiyAhmedAli) November 28, 2020
Abiy’s claim of victory came after the country’s army chief General Birhanu Jula announced that government forces “completely controlled Mekelle”. The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation quoted him saying that 7,000 members of the army’s Northern Command who were held hostage by the TPLF had also been freed.
The government had given the TPLF an ultimatum that expired on Wednesday to surrender or face an assault on Mekelle, a city of 500,000 people. And Abiy announced on Thursday he had ordered a “final” offensive against the TPLF.
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Earlier on Saturday, Debretsion, the TPLF leader, said Mekelle was under “heavy bombardment”. A diplomat in direct contact with residents also said federal forces had begun an offensive to capture the city.
Launched as a fledgeling fighting group in the 1970s, the TPLF led a movement that came to power in 1991 after overthrowing the Communist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam. It established a multi-ethnic governing coalition that was dominated by ethnic Tigrayans for decades.