Ethiopian army marches on 'treasonous' Tigray region as ethnic conflict worsens

Elias Hubbard
November 20, 2020

"He has worked for them to get weapons", said Berhanu, without offering evidence to support the claims.

The government did not immediately respond to requests for comment although it has previously denied bombing civilian targets.

People participate in a two minute ceremony to honour the members of Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) fighting against the Tigray Special Forces, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia November 17, 2020. "He has been doing everything to support them, he has campaigned for neighbouring countries to condemn the war", said Gen Berhanu.

The 55-year-old was appointed as the first African head of the World Health Organization in 2017 and has become a household name as he grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sudan says some 36,000 people have fled over the border from Tigray amid the ongoing fighting.

The TPLF led the overthrow of Mengistu Hailemariam, head of Ethiopia's military Derg regime, in 1991 and dominated politics for three decades until the arrival of Abiy who was appointed in 2018.

The feud escalated in September when Tigray held a regional election, defying a nationwide ban on all polls imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But observers have voiced concern about Tigrayans losing their jobs or being arrested for their ethnicity. After Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accused the TPLF of attacking a federal army base, he launched a military offensive, declared a state of emergency, and cut off communications with the Tigray region.

A communications blackout means it is hard to verify the competing claims and the picture of the state of play on the ground remains confused.

Meanwhile the United Nations says a "full-scale humanitarian crisis" is unfolding, with 36,000 people having streamed into neighbouring Sudan, according to that country's refugee commission. The International Committee of the Red Cross said there is no electricity and limited water in Tigray's capital Mekele, while hospital supplies are also running low.

The Ethiopian government statement came a day after arrest warrants were issued for 76 military officials that the government said were affiliated with the Tigray leadership.

Ethiopian federal forces are trying to advance along main roads from the south and the northwest of Mekelle and had got to within around 200 km of the Tigrayan capital, a diplomat monitoring the conflict said.

Ethiopia has issued arrest warrants for 76 army officers accused of siding with the Tigray People's Liberation Front that is now engaging in a battle with the central government.

Forces loyal to that party are fighting the government in the restive Tigray region.

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Other reports by Click Lancashire

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