Tigray forces: Ethiopia mechanised division ‘fully destroyed | Ethiopia
Tigray forces fighting the Ethiopian federal government in the northern region said they “completely destroyed” the Army’s 21st Mechanized Division.
Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Tigray’s military, made the claim during a television broadcast Tuesday.
Reda vowed to “arm every civilian to defend the city of Mekelle,” the capital of Tigray with a population of about 500,000.
A government spokesman did not return calls to respond to Reda’s comments.
It is impossible to verify statements from both sides, as the telephone and internet connections to the Tigray region are interrupted and access to the area is strictly controlled.
‘Fight to the death’
Hundreds of people have been killed and around 40,000 have fled to neighboring Sudan since the conflict broke out on November 4.
The leader of the Ethiopian dissident region of Tigray said his people are “ready to die” to defend their homeland and rejected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ultimatum to surrender within 72 hours.
Abiy launched a military campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on November 4, in which she was accused of attacking two federal military camps in the northern region and opposing and destabilizing his government.
The Bundeswehr says its armed forces are within 60 km of Mekelle, the headquarters of the TPLF, from an impending bomb attack on the city.
A member of the Amhara special forces allied with the Ethiopian federal government holds his assault rifle in Humera, Ethiopia, on Sunday [Eduardo Soteras/AFP]Abiy – last year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate – on Sunday called on the TPLF to surrender peacefully within three days, saying they were “at a point of no return”.
But TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael said Abiy was trying to cover setbacks his army suffered against the Tigrayan forces and making threats to buy time.
“He doesn’t understand who we are. We are people of principle and ready to die to defend our right to govern our region, ”said Debretsion on Monday.
Brigadier General Tesfaye Ayalew, quoted Monday by the state-run Fana Broadcasting Corporate, said federal troops “invaded Mekelle” after capturing key cities in the north and south.
The army has threatened a merciless tank attack on the TPLF leadership in Mekelle, warning civilians to leave while they can and raising concerns among right-wing activists.
“Treating an entire city as a military target wouldn’t just [be] It could also be viewed as a form of collective punishment, ”said Human Rights Watch researcher Laetitia Bader.
Amnesty International has documented a gruesome massacre in which “probably hundreds” of people were stabbed and hacked to death in the southwestern city of Mai-Kadra.
The UN Security Council will hold its first meeting on the conflict on Tuesday. The virtual meeting will not be open to the public and it was not yet clear whether a statement would be made afterwards, diplomatic sources said.
UN chief Antonio Guterres last week called for humanitarian corridors to be opened to support civilians in the fighting. The Ethiopian authorities had so far refused mediation attempts.
In Bahir Dar, capital of the Amhara region south of Tigray, witnesses said Monday that rockets hit the city, the third time since the fighting began that it was shot at.
There was no immediate response from the government or any claim to responsibility.
The TPLF assumed responsibility for previous missile attacks on Bahir Dar and Gondar, another city in Amhara, as well as on Eritrea’s capital, Asmara.
Abiy has resisted international pressure to stop the fighting, including from the African Union (AU), calling the campaign a “law enforcement operation” against a “treasonous group” now entering its final phase.
Redwan Hussein, spokesman for an Ethiopian committee dealing with the conflict, said the government would meet the AU envoys “out of respect” but flatly ruled out talks with the TPLF.
“The facts on the ground have changed and we have reached the end,” he told reporters on Monday.
The TPLF led the armed struggle that overthrew the brutal Derg regime in 1991 and controlled the coalition that ruled Ethiopia for nearly three decades until Abiy was appointed in 2018.
Since then, Tigrayan leaders have complained that they have been wrongly attacked in corruption prosecutions, removed from top positions and largely scapegoated for the country’s problems.