The Ethiopian National Defence Force (NDF) says it is engaged in “stabilization efforts” following the capture of Mekelle, the Tigray regional capital, from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
A senior military officer, Lt.-Gen. Bacha Debele, told a news briefing on Sunday that the continuing activities by the NDF are “part of the efforts of restoring stability and returning normalcy to the region”, the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.
Gen. Debele said efforts are underway to stabilise the city as well to bring the TPLF junta to justice.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, announced on Saturday that the army had seized control of Mekelle and freed some of its officers held hostage during the three-week-long military assault.
“The Federal Government is fully in control of Mekelle with the full command of the regional capital,” Prime Minister Abiy said.
The NDF Chief of Staff, Gen. Birhanu Jula, said government soldiers freed more than 7,000 members of the Northern Command who were taken as hostages by the TPLF.
It has also taken control of the Northern Command Centre in Mekelle, Birhanu added.
The fighting has created a huge refugee problem with tens of thousands of Ethiopians fleeing to Sudan.
The UN refugee agency said since the start of fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in early November, more than 43,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan seeking protection and shelter.
Violence erupted at the start of November in Tigray involving federal and local forces, following the reported takeover of an army base in Mekelle, which prompted the prime minister to order a military offensive.
Prior to the Tigray escalation, dozens of people in western Oromia region had been killed and injured in attacks.
The Ethiopian Federal Government has also declared a six-month state of emergency in the Tigray Region which is controlled by the TPLF.
The TPLF has accused Prime Minister Abiy, who is from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, of forcing them out of the government and security posts since taking office in 2018. (PANA/NAN)