Ethiopia’s Tigray Rebels Take Several Key Towns in 24 Hours


Nairobi (Somaliguardian) – Tigray forces have reasserted control of the town of Humera and Raya area after Ethiopian and Amhara troops retreated, rebel-affiliated Tigray Media House has reported on Tuesday.

It comes after they regained control of the towns of Axum, Shire and Adwa on Tuesday following the withdrawal of Ethiopian and Eritrean troops, in just 24 hours after they had recaptured regional capital, Mekelle on Monday.

Tigrayan rebels say they will enter neighboring Eritrea and Ethiopia’s Amhara region to pursue “enemy” forces if it is required, a spokesman said on Tuesday as rebels make further advances after taking regional capital on Monday.

“Our primary focus is to degrade enemy fighting capabilities … So if going to Amhara is what it takes, we will do it, if going to Eritrea is what it takes, we’ll do it,” Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Tigray rulers retake regional capital, government declares ceasefire

Forces of former ruling party of Ethiopia’s Tigray region said on Monday they were back in control of the regional capital, Mekelle months after they had been driven out in an offensive launched by allied Ethiopian and Eritrean troops.

Federal government-appointed interim administration for the region fled on Monday afternoon and allied Ethiopian and Eritrean troops withdrew after receiving information of Tigray rebels advancing on the mountainous town.

“The capital of Tigray, Mekelle, is under our control,” Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the region’s former ruling party whose forces have taken the town, told Reuters on Monday night.

Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed ordered what he billed as a “law enforcement” operation in November of last year to oust the party that had ruled the land-locked Horn of Africa nation for decades before he rose to power in 2018.

Thousands of people have died in the ensuing conflict and tens of thousands fled to neighboring Sudan.

Humanitarian agencies warned a few weeks ago that the hundreds of thousands of people in the region were living in famine conditions and accused Eritrean troops of using starvation as a weapon of war, a move that puts millions of people to the brink of death.

Shortly after the fall of Mekelle, Ethiopia’s government said it was declaring a ceasefire following a request from the interim regional administration in Tigray, which Abiy Ahmed appointed after toppling TPLF forces.

“This unilateral ceasefire declaration starts from today June 28, 2021 and will stay until the farming season ends,” the federal government said in a statement late on Monday.

Celebrations broke out in Mekelle over night and photos circulated on social media show cheering crowds across streets of the city to welcome the Tigray defense forces, more than 8 months after they had been driven from the capital of northern Ethiopia’s war-wrecked region.

“Until all our enemies leave Tigray, we will fight,” Liya Kassa, another TPLF spokesman, said in an audio statement posted late on Monday on the Facebook page of the party-affiliated Tigrai Media House.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had spoken to Ethiopia’s prime minister and was “hopeful” that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place.

“It is essential that civilians are protected, humanitarian aid reach the people in need and a political solution is found,” Guterres said in a statement.

Residents said on Tuesday Eritrean forces could no longer be seen in Shire, a major town at the junction of several main roads and troops from the neighboring country withdrew hours after Tigray forces had retaken regional capital.

“There is not a single Eritrean in town,” a resident in Shire told Reuters. Another resident in the town told Reuters “overnight there was a massive movement of troops.”

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