An official from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has told CNN the war in Ethiopia is far from over and that Eritrean troops are part of the conflict.
Speaking exclusively to CNN for the first time since the fall of Mekelle, the capital of the northern Tigray region, Getachew Reda said the bulk of the region still remains in the hands of the TPLF.
“We withdrew from Mekelle because we did not want to give them the pretext to bombard the city back to the stone age, to indiscriminately bombard and destroy the town,” Reda, Ethiopia’s former Communications Minister and a member of the TPLF executive council, told CNN by phone from inside the Tigray region.
Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) took control of the city on Saturday, according to a tweet from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. It was under fierce bombardment earlier on Saturday, a humanitarian source on the ground and eyewitnesses who have fled Mekelle, told CNN.
“Abiy’s forces focused on capturing the towns but the bulk of the people are in the rural areas — the largest parts of the region — and that is where we are,” said Reda. “As we speak there are military engagements in the larger part of the region; we are defending our positions, there have been a series of offensives and we are taking defensive positions, it won’t be long before we reverse and launch a counter offensive.”Reda told CNN he feared that the conflict was descending into ethnic cleansing, warning that Abiy is “pitting Amhara against Tigray.”
In response to the TPLF’s claims of ethnic killings and Eritrean military involvement, a spokeswoman for the federal government’s state of emergency task force said it was a “continued attempt” by the TPLF to “internationalize the situation and gain international support for impunity.”