Sunday, November 29, 2020

Fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray Still Going on, TPLF Head Asserts

By Simon Marks

November 29, 2020, 3:20 PM EST

Dissident forces say they regained control of Axum city

Prime Minister said government’s assault ceased on Saturday

Ethiopian refugees who fled the Tigray conflict, start building temporary huts at Um Raquba camp in Sudan's eastern Gedaref province on Nov. 28. Photographer: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty 

Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is still rife despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s assertions on Saturday that government troops ceased military operations in the dissident province after capturing its capital, according to the region’s president.

Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, said his forces regained control of Axum, a city the federal army took a week ago. They also shot down a MiG-23 aircraft and had its pilot in custody, he said by text message.

“The Prime Minister said yesterday their mission is complete, but he was caught today bombing Tigray,” Debretsion said. “We’ll take back all towns based on our plan. The initiative is ours now.”

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The federal troops began an incursion into Tigray on Nov. 4 after Abiy accused the TPLF of attacking an army base to steal weapons. While he reiterated that the assault would be quick, analysts warn a long and brutal guerrilla war with the heavily armed Tigrayan forces is more likely. The violence in Africa’s second-biggest nation has spilled beyond its borders with TPLF forces said to have fired missiles into neighboring Eritrea three times this month.

The TPLF was once the predominant power in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition but has been progressively sidelined since Abiy took office in 2018.

Redwan Hussein, state foreign minister and spokesperson for the government’s Emergency Task Force, and Billene Seyoum, the prime minister’s spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to emails and text messages seeking comment.

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