Rebels enter Tigray’s capital

Rebels enter Tigray’s capital

Eight months into the civil war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, Tigrayan fighters began entering Mekelle, the regional capital, last night after Ethiopian government troops retreated from the city.

The Ethiopian military has occupied the Tigray region since November. The Tigrayan forces, known as the Tigray Defense Forces, spent months regrouping and recruiting new fighters. In the past week, they began a rolling counterattack back toward the capital, in a significant setback for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

A federal government official in Tigray confirmed that Tigrayan forces had entered the city and had seized control of the airport and telecommunications network. Ethiopia’s government said that it had called a unilateral cease-fire. It was not clear whether Tigrayan forces had accepted the truce.

Scenes on the ground: Journalists for The Times in Mekelle saw thousands of residents take to the streets last night, waving flags and shooting off fireworks after hearing that Tigrayan forces had advanced to the city.

29-VI-21, nytimes

Ethiopian rebels seize the regional capital

Eight months after the Ethiopian Army attacked the region of Tigray, the civil war took a turn as Tigrayan fighters seized control of the regional capital, Mekelle. Residents celebrated in the streets.

The rebel forces indicated they had little appetite for a truce. Senior rebel members said they would continue to fight and were ready to pursue Eritrean forces, who have joined the Ethiopian troops, on their territory.

The dramatic turnaround was a blow to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia; he launched an offensive in November that he promised would be over in weeks. The war now looks as if it could drag on, after eight months of violence in which Eritrean troops have been accused of atrocities.

Turning the tide: The war began with Tigrayan forces clearly on the defensive. Yet the rebels have managed to regroup. In addition, the invasion and human rights abuses have driven large numbers of recruits into the group’s arms.

The toll: Almost two million people have been displaced from their homes. The region is facing a long list of crises including a lack of water and education, along with a famine in which millions face hunger.

30-VI-21, nytimes