Ethiopia says army in control of Tigray capital as more rockets target Eritrea
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has declared victory in the northern Tigray region after the military took over the capital Mekelle on Saturday. Hours after, several rockets, reportedly launched from Tigray, hit the capital of neighbouring Eritrea, with the US embassy in Asmara reporting "six explosions".
“God bless Ethiopia and its people!" Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement. “We have entered Mekelle without innocent civilians being targets."
He said police would pursue the leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), who run the region and dominated Ethiopia's ruling coalition before Abiy came to power in 2018. The prime minister sidelined them among the sweeping reforms that won him the Nobel Peace Prize.
Abiy’s government has accused the TPLF of inciting unrest and seeking to reclaim power, and rejected dialogue with the militia leaders.
As Abiy spoke of a return to normalcy in Tigray, one of his ministers told The Associated Press in a phone interview “there is no way” the search for the TPLF leaders will take weeks.
The minister said the government didn't yet know the number of people killed in the conflict, adding: "We have kept the civilian casualty very low.”
Human rights groups have reported several hundred dead, including civilians and combatants, and have expressed concern about the worsening humanitarian situation.
Nearly 1 million people have been displaced, including more than 40,000 who fled into Sudan. Camps home to 96,000 Eritrean refugees in northern Tigray have been in the line of fire.
Reigniting old rivalry
The fighting has threatened to destabilise Ethiopia, which has been described as the linchpin of the strategic Horn of Africa, and its neighbours.
The explosions late Saturday in the Eritrean capital mark the third time Asmara has come under fire from Tigray since military operations began there on 4 November.
The TPLF claimed responsibility for the first attack, justifying it by accusing Ethiopia of enlisting Eritrean military support for its campaign in Tigray, something Addis Ababa denies.
The US has accused the Tigray militia of seeking to “internationalise” the conflict.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe