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Abiy urges refugees to return as hunt continues for TPLF chief

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Monday the Tigray region's dissident leaders had fled west of the regional capital after weeks of fighting but indicated federal forces were monitoring them closely and would attack them soon.

Abiy, winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, this month ordered military operations against leaders of Tigray's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), in response to what he said were TPLF-organised attacks on Ethiopian federal army camps.

More than three weeks of fighting between federal soldiers and pro-TPLF forces has left thousands dead in the northern region, and prompted tens of thousands of refugees to flee across the border into Sudan.

"I want them to hear me: yesterday evening, around midnight, we saw them from the situation room in the area between Hagere Selam and Abiy Addi," Abiy said in remarks to lawmakers, referring to two towns west of the Tigray capital Mekele.

"We didn't attack them at night because as they retreated they took their wives, children and abducted soldiers... But this will not continue."

The fighting has been a dramatic escalation of tensions between Abiy and the leaders of the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades before anti-government protests swept Abiy to office in 2018.

Abiy said on Saturday the military operations were "completed" after federal forces claimed control of the Tigray regional capital Mekele. read more...


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