Ethiopia: troops advance towards Mekelle

The Ethiopian government said on November 24 that Tigrayan soldiers were surrendering in the face of its advance towards the regional capital Mekelle (pictured), but the local forces reported they were resisting and had destroyed a significant army division.

Hundreds of civilians have died,, and there has been widespread destruction and uprooting of people from homes in the northern Tigray region, and more than 40,000 refugees have fled to Sudan.

However the information about events on the ground is impossible to verify, because there press is denied access to the Tigray region, which is deprived of electricity after power station bombing, and internet shutdown ordered by the federal government, as a part of their offensive against Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has underlined that many Tigrayan combatants had responded to an ultimatum to lay down arms before a threatened offensive against Mekelle city, with half a million inhabitants. The deadline expires on November 25.

“Using the government’s 72-hour period, a large number of Tigray militia and special forces are surrendering,” the federal government taskforce said.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominates in the region of more than 5 million people, gave a different insights of events, saying their troops were keeping federal forces at bay and scoring some successful military counter-attacks.

Their spokesman Getachew Reda said an important army unit – which he termed the 21st mechanised division – was destroyed in an assault at Raya-Wajirat led by a former commander of that unit now fighting for the TPLF.

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