Abiy Ahmed (centre) arrives for the opening session of the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. File/AP
Gulf Today Report
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the military to confront Tigray region, one of the country's regional governments, on Wednesday. He said it carried out a deadly attack on a military base overnight, citing months of "provocation and incitement” and declaring that "the last red line has been crossed.”
Abiy ordered the military to deploy to the Tigray region after a major escalation of a row between the premier and the once-powerful region.
While addressing the nation on TV, Abiy announced that, "several martyrs” in the attack in Mekele, the northern Tigray region's capital, and Dansha town.
The prime minister said "the end is near” for the regional force, which is based in Ethiopia's most sensitive region, neighbouring Eritrea. The two countries made peace in 2018 after a long border war.
Minister Abiy Ahmed poses for a photograph in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. File photo/Reuters
Tigray officials have objected to the postponement of Ethiopia’s national election, once set for August, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the extension of Abiy’s time in office.
Tigray held regional elections in defiance of the federal government in September, which called the vote “illegal.” The row has escalated in recent days with both sides accusing each other of plotting a military conflict.
Early on Wednesday, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attempted to steal artillery and other equipment from federal forces stationed there, Abiy’s office said in a statement.
“The last red line has been crossed with this morning’s attacks and the federal government is therefore forced into a military confrontation,” Abiy’s office said in a statement.
There was no immediate word from the TPLF, and all internet and phone lines were cut in the Tigray region following the announcement. Tigray TV reported that airspace has been closed over the region.The Ethiopian National Defence Forces have been ordered to carry out “their mission to save the country and the region from spiralling into instability”, the statement said.
Rights group Amnesty International said scores and possibly hundreds of civilians were stabbed and hacked to death in the region on Nov.9, citing witnesses. It said it had not been able to independently confirm who was responsible,
In the late hours of Nov. 13, 2020, “a rocket was fired towards Bahir Dar and Gondar cities. As a result, the airport areas have sustained damages," a government statement said.
Federal troops have captured the regional capital Mekelle from the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and declared an end to their offensive.
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