The leader of Ethiopia’s dissident Tigray state vowed to fight on after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said federal
forces regained full control of the region.
Ethiopia’s army captured the Tigray capital of Mekelle, after almost a month of fighting that’s left hundreds of people dead and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes.
The authorities are now
focussed on rebuilding what was destroyed and restoring order to the region, Abiy said.
Debretsion Gebremichael, the head of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said his forces are continuing to defend the region and have regained control of Axum, a northern city the federal army captured a week ago. Fighting is continuing near Wikro, north of Mekelle, he said by text message on Monday.
“We’ll take back all towns based on our plan,” Debretsion said. “The initiative is ours now.”
Federal troops began an incursion into Tigray on November 4 after Abiy accused the TPLF of attacking an army base to steal weapons.
While Abiy says his mission has been accomplished, analysts warn a long and brutal guerrilla war with the heavily armed Tigrayan forces is more likely.
The violence has spilled over Ethiopia’s borders, with TPLF forces firing missiles into neighboring Eritrea at least three times this month, according to foreign diplomats.
The United Nations refugee agency appealed for $147 million to cater for Ethiopians fleeing into neighbouring Sudan. The amount will be sufficient for 100,000 people for six months, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi told reporters.
He also raised his concern about UNHCR’s lack of access to Eritrean refugees that had been sheltering in Tigray and hoped access would be granted soon.
Abiy’s spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, declined to respond directly to Debretsion’s
“The federal government as a priority is busy governing a country and bringing stability to those affected,” she said by text message.
“Tracking and responding to the many delusions of a disintegrating criminal clique that has become irrelevant is not our focus.”