By Seleshi Tessema and Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) have managed to liberate the restive region of Tigray with "no collateral damage," Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told a parliamentary question and answer session on Monday.
“We have succeeded in achieving [our main] targets in the Tigray region, devoid of any collateral damage,” Abiy said at the House of People’s Representatives. “The ENDF also managed to avoid damage to infrastructure."
On Nov. 4, the Ethiopian government began a law enforcement operation in Tigray against the outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) whose forces had stormed an army base, killing soldiers and looting military assets.
It termed the action nearly complete on Nov. 28 after taking control of the regional capital Mekele, the last bastion of the TPLF.
“No civilian was killed by the Ethiopian army during the operation in Tigray including in the city of Mekele,” he said.
The TPLF led a four-party coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, between 1991 and 2018. It ruled the East African country with heavy handedness and unprecedented corruption, favoritism and crimes against humanity.
Abiy came to power in 2018, and initiated wide-ranging reforms but the TPLF opted out when he dissolved the ruling coalition.
Tensions escalated when Tigray held a regional election in September, defying a nationwide ban on all polls due to the coronavirus pandemic. The vote has been termed illegal by the federal government.
- No dialogue
The prime minister reiterated that there won't be any dialogue with the TPLF leadership, whom he earlier described as “greedy junta."
“Who shall the Ethiopian government hold dialogue with... with a force that committed crimes against humanity in Mai Kadra?"
Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in its report found that a TPLF-financed youth group massacred more than 600 civilians in the western town.
The Amhara Mass Media agency also found several mass graves of civilians killed outside Mai Kadra, strengthening fears that the figure given by the commission could be much higher.
“Yesterday we watched TPLF leaders retreating to a place called Agere Selam, but did not shoot them because they were with their families,” Abiy, who won 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, said.