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Ethiopia PM: Air strikes target military depot at TPLF’s Tigray

PM Abi Ahmed says that Mekele and its surrounding areas were attacked and destroyed heavy artillery including rocket launchers.

Prime Minister Abi Ahmed said the Ethiopian Air Force on Friday attacked an arms depot in the Northern Tigray region and destroyed military hardware.

In a statement released on Friday evening by the state affiliate Fana, Abi said the attack destroyed heavy artillery, including rocket launchers, in the regional capital Mekele and its surroundings.

Abi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, on Wednesday launched a military campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated politics in the country until he came to office in 2018.

“These airstrikes are not targeted at civilians, but at targets stored by this dangerous group,” he said, citing hardware held by the TPLF, adding that the Air Force had launched heavy weapons in Mekele and its surrounding areas. Destroyed and alleged that the TPLF “wishes to use them”.

He said the operation would continue “until the junta is made accountable by law”.

Abi called it “the first round of operations”, there was no mention of any casualties.

Abi’s announcement this week marked another increase in skirmishes that experts say could turn into civil war.

There was no immediate response from the Tigre government, while the region is boxed up by rapid movement restrictions and a state of six-month emergency imposed by the federal government.

Hours earlier, Abi defended the military operations that were launched after an alleged deadly attack on the military base on Wednesday.

Abi said that the “large-scale law enforcement operation” has “clear, limited and attainable objectives: to restore the rule of law and the constitutional system”.

He described the region’s leadership as “fugitives from justice … the use of the civilian population as a human shield”.
“Our country has entered a war which it did not want. This war is a shameful war. It doesn’t make any sense. Tigre and his youth and the people of his security forces should not die for this fruitless war. Ethiopia is their country, ”Deputy Chief of the Army, Birhanu Zula said on state television, saying that the troops were being replenished from across the country and sent to Tigre.

On the same day, the regional president of Tigray, Debretsian Gebremikel, said: “I said that they decided to go to war and we all should prepare to make it. This is our proclamation, so let it be clear.

He said, “There is no reason for the people of Tigray to hold elections. There was nothing new. This is the action of a self-styled government trying to solve, though not possible, force, weapons and Political differences through war. That is why they have declared war on the people of Tigray. “

The Civil Aviation Authority of Ethiopia said that the northern Tigray region is cutting fast. Airports in Mekele and regional cities of Shire, Exum and Hamera were “closed for any services”.

Sudan news agency reported that in Sudan, the acting governor of Kasala province said that he had closed his border with northern Ethiopia “until further notice”.
The TPLF was the dominant political force in Ethiopia’s majority ruling coalition for decades, but two years ago Abi, a member of the Oromo ethnic group, stepped down and restructured the coalition into a single party.

The countries of the region fear that the crisis may escalate into an all-out war under Abi, which won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending a decades-old conflict with neighboring Eritrea but has struggled with an outbreak of ethnic unrest.

Tensions with the TPLF have been mounting since September when Tigray held regional elections in defiance of the federal government, calling the vote “illegal”.

Sources said efforts were going on from behind the scenes to encourage dialogue on behalf of the African Union. But the initiative was being opposed by officials in Addis Ababa who insist that they would have to eliminate the threat posed by the TPLF.

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