Ethiopia launches search for Tigray leaders

November 30, 2020 12:00 am | Updated 04:23 am IST - ADDIS ABABA/NAIROBI

PM says troops now control Mekele

The Ethiopian government launched a manhunt on Sunday for leaders of a rebellious faction in the northern region of Tigray after announcing federal troops had taken over the regional capital Mekele and military operations were complete.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said hospitals in Mekele are running low on supplies such as gloves to care for the wounded, and one hospital is lacking body bags for the dead.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been trying to quell a rebellion by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a powerful ethnically-based party that dominated the central government for nearly three decades before Mr. Abiy came to power in 2018.

He said on Saturday federal troops had taken control of Mekele, allaying fears of protracted fighting in the city of 5,00,000 people.

TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael later told Reuters that his forces were withdrawing from around the city but would fight on, raising the spectre of a drawn-out guerrilla war.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and nearly 44,000 have fled to neighbouring Sudan since fighting began on November 4.

The conflict has been another test for Mr. Abiy, who is trying to hold together a patchwork of ethnic groups that make up Ethiopia’s 115 million people. The flow of refugees and attacks by the TPLF on neighbouring Eritrea have also threatened to destabilize the wider Horn of Africa region.

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