Fighting persists in Tigray despite Ethiopia's declaration of victory against rebels

Fighting persists in Ethiopia’s Tigray state a week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced victory against armed rebels in the northern region in a conflict that has shaken the Horn of Africa.

Rebel forces fighting in Tigray accused Ethiopian troops of looting and inflicting damage on civilian properties on Saturday after government forces said they were within days of capturing their leaders.

Last week, Prime Minister Abiy said that military operations in Tigray had “completed” after government troops claimed they had taken control of the regional capital, Mekelle.

A month of fighting between the federal army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is believed to have killed thousands of people and driven some 46,000 refugees into neighboring Sudan.

Addis Ababa says the conflict is winding down and claims to have captured or killed most commanders of the rebellious northern force. The TPLF, however, insists the fighting is far from over.

TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael told Reuters on Saturday that Tigray’s armed forces were still fighting government troops outside Mekelle. He also claimed that federal forces had bombed the town of Abbi Adi on Friday.

A TPLF spokesman accused federal soldiers of looting and inflicting damage on factories in the regional capital.

“(They are) looting civilian properties, hotels and damaging factories after looting,” the rebels’ spokesman, Getachew Reda, told a TPLF-owned TV station.

Rebel leaders have reportedly fled to surrounding mountains and declared they have begun a guerrilla-style resistance.

Meanwhile, most communications systems in Tigray remained down, making it difficult to verify news of the conflict in the mountainous region bordering Eritrea.

As skirmishes continue in the volatile region, aid agencies are worried about a lack of food, fuel, medicine and even body bags in Tigray.

The European Union’s crisis commissioner, Janez Lenarcic, said Addis Ababa’s relief operation only covered federal-controlled areas.

“There may be malnourished children on the other side also,” Lenarcic told reporters in Ethiopia. The government did not immediately respond to his comments.

TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades; however, the group’s clout declined since Abiy came to power in 2018. Many senior Tigrayan officials have been detained, fired, or sidelined, in what the federal government calls a clampdown on corruption.

The once-powerful TPLF, however, complains of being unfairly singled out in corruption prosecutions.

The conflict has threatened the security of neighboring countries. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that “the stability of Ethiopia is important for the entire Horn of Africa region.”

Check Also

Iran trained Russians on using armed drones, US intel says

The Pentagon has warned Iran not to provide armed drones to Russia for use in …