Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said that air strikes have been conducted in the northern region of Tigray, days after he announced a military operation there.
The strikes hit sites in and around the regional capital Mekelle and destroyed heavy artillery including rocket launchers, Mr Abiy said in a statement broadcast by state-affiliated Fana.
On Wednesday, Mr Abiy announced a military operation against Tigray after he alleged that regional troops had attacked a military command post hosting federal troops.
The army’s deputy chief of staff has accused regional troops loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of treason.
The TPLF used to be the dominant force in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition but its power has waned since Mr Abiy became prime minister in 2018.
Aiby said that the federal government tried for several months to avoid a confrontation with the Tigray region but that the efforts had failed.
In a Twitter thread, the Prime Minister said, “Operations by federal defence forces underway in Northern #Ethiopia have clear, limited & achievable objectives — to restore the rule of law & the constitutional order, and to safeguard the rights of Ethiopians to lead a peaceful life wherever they are in the country.
“The Federal Gov patiently tried for several months to resolve differences with TPLF leadership peacefully; we tried mediation, reconciliation, dialogue. All failed b/c of TPLF criminal hubris & intransigence. In the last straw, TPLF attacked the Northern Command based in Tigray.”
He added, “Article 51 of FDRE Constitution, listing powers & functions of federal gov’t stipulates that “It shall protect & defend the Constitution”. To discharge this duty the gov’t is taking measures to enforce the rule of law against a clique that attacked our National Defense Forces.
“Ethiopia has no place for criminal elements. The proud Ethiopian people of Tigray & other citizens cannot be taken hostage by fugitives from justice forever. We shall extract the region of these criminal elements & relaunch our country on a path to sustainable prosperity for all.”
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