Ethiopia: TPLF claims killing hundreds of government troops

Ethiopian soldiers rest at the 5th Battalion of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Army in Dansha on November 25, 2020.

Photo credit: Eduardo Soteras | AFP

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) claims it has killed hundreds of government soldiers, including Eritrean troops who allegedly were involved in the fighting in Ethiopia’s northern region.

TPLF, Tigray's former governing party-turned-rebel group, said it has killed a total of 502 soldiers in a new military offence it launched last week.

Ethiopian Prime Minister and Noble Peace prize winner Abiy Ahmed sent federal troops and fighter jets to Tigray in November last year to depose the TPLF after major escalation of a long-running feud.

Later that month, after the regional capital, Mekelle, fell into the hands of federal forces, Abiy officially declared that the war on Tigray was over.

However, sources on the ground including foreign aid agencies say sporadic fighting between the Ethiopian army and troops loyal to TPLF has continued in many parts of the restive northern Tigray region.

Confirming the continued clashes, Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) spokesperson Gebre Gebretsadik said 502 government soldiers were killed and many others were wounded in the previous week alone.

"On Monday, February 8, our forces launched a military offensive against enemy troops stationed around Kola-Temben town in Juwamare locality. We have completely eliminated enemy forces," said Gebre who appeared on Dimtsi Woyane (DW) TV a few days ago.

"In the military operation, 128 soldiers, including all their military leaders, were killed, 59 wounded and 12 surrendered".

According to the military spokesperson, the government side had suffered both huge human casualties and material losses in fighting the next day where he alleged Eritrean troops had taken part.

"On the next day, our forces attacked enemy defence positions around Tembein town in Adi-Chilo locality and killed 358 troops."

"At least 150 were also wounded," he said, adding "backup forces were sent but were beaten.''

He further said various types of military hardware including five tanks, 177 rockets, 22 military vehicles, several weapons and communication facilities were either captured or destroyed.

The Nation could not independently verify the claims.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

According to Gebre, the two-day military operation was named after Seyoum Mesfin, former Ethiopian Foreign Minister and among TPLF founders.

Seyoum, who also served as a diplomat, was killed recently by federal forces in Tigray after he refused to surrender.

The fighting, according to some analysts, could be a long and bloody civil war with a potential to spill to the East African region.